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FROM si.w'iin- 

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A- »:;. A Of T;1£ }■' !■■'?■: OF :^i, .>;-:, 

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Copyright, 1900, 1901, 
Bt booker T. WASHINGTON- 

, » I ■ -^r:^ na.— .jcir— ts 

APR 13 1908 


--" / , 3 ^^ 

This volume is dedicated to my Wife 

And to my Brother 


Whose patience i fidelity ^ and hard work have gone far 
to make the work at Tuskegee successful 


This volume is the outgrowth of a series of 
articles, dealing with incidents in my life, which 
were published consecutively in the Outlook. While 
they were appearing in that magazine I was con- 
stantly surprised at the number of requests which 
came to me from all parts of the country, asking 
that the articles be permanently preserved in book 
form. I am most grateful to the Outlook for per- 
mission to gratify these requests. 

I have tried to tell a simple, straightforward story, 
with no attempt at embellishment. My regret is 
that what I have attempted to do has been done so 
imperfectly. The greater part of my, time and 
strength is required for the executive work con- 
nected with the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial 
Institute, and in securing the money necessary for 
the support of the institution. Much of what I 
have said has been written on board trains, or at 
hotels or railroad stations while I have been waiting 



for trains^ or during the moments that I could spare 
from my work while at Tuskegee. Without the 
painstaking and generous assistance of Mr. Max 
Bennett Thrasher I could not have succeeded in 
any satisfactory degree. 


Introduction by Walter H. Page 


I. A Slave among Slaves 

II. Boyhood Days 

III. The Struggle for an Education 

IV. Helping Others . 
V. The Reconstruction Period 

VL Black Race and Red Race 

VII. Early Days at Tuskegee . 

VUI. Teaching School in a Stable and a Hen-House 

IX. Anxious Days and Sleepless Nights • 

X. A Harder Task than making Bricks without Straw 

XI. Making their Beds before they could lie on them 

Xn. Raising Money • • . . . 

XIII. Two Thousand Miles for a Five Minute Speech 

XrV. The Atlanta Exposition Address 

XV. The Secret of Success in Public Speaking • 

XVI. Europe . • • • • • 

XVn. Last Words 









The details of Mr. Washington's early life, as 
frankly set down in "Up from Slavery," do not 
give quite a whole view of his education. He had 
the training that a coloured youth receives at Hamp- 
ton, which, indeed, the autobiography does explain. 
But the reader does not get his intellectual pedigree, 
for Mr. Washington himself, perhaps, does not as 
clearly understand it as another man might. The 
truth is he had a training during the most impres- 
sionable period of his life that was very extraordi- 
nary, such a training as few men of his generation 
have had. To see its fiill meaning one must start 
in the Hawaiian Islands half a century or more 
ago.^ There Samuel Armstrong, a youth of mis- 
sionary parents, earned enough money to pay his 
expenses at an American college. Equipped with 
this small sum and the earnestness that the under- 
taking implied, he came to Williams College when 
Dr. Mark Hopkins was president. Williams Col- 

^ For this interesting view of Mr. Washington*8 educadon, I am indebted to 
Robert C. Ogden, Esq., Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Hampton Institute 
and the intimate friend of General Armstrong during tlie whole period of his educa« 
tional work. 



lege had many good things for youth in that day, as 
it has in this, but the greatest was the strong person- 
ality of its famous president Every student does 
not profit by a great teacher ; but perhaps no young 
man ever came under the influence of Dr. Hopkins 
whose whole nature was so ripe for profit by such 
an experience as young Armstrong. He lived in 
the family of President Hopkins, and thus had a 
training that was wholly out of the common ; and 
this training had much to do with the development 
of his own strong character, whose originality and 
force we are only beginning to appreciate. 

In turn, Samuel Armstrong, the founder of 
Hampton Institute, took up his work as a trainer 
of youth. He had very raw material, and doubtless 
most of his pupils failed to get the greatest lessons 
from him ; but, as he had been a peculiarly receptive 
pupil of Dr. Hopkins, so Booker Washington be- 
came a peculiarly receptive pupil of his. To the 
formation of Mr. Washington's character, then, went 
the missionary zeal of New England, influenced by 
one of the strongest personalities in modern educa- 
tion, and the wide-reaching moral earnestness of 
General Armstrong himself. These influences are 
easily recognizable in Mr. Washington to-day by 
men who knew Dn Hopkins and General Arm- 


I got the cue to Mr. Washington's character from 
a very simple incident many years ago. I had 
never seen him, and I knew little about him, except 
that he was the head of a school at Tuskegee, Ala- 
bama. I had occasion to write to him, and I 
addressed him as " The Rev. Booker T. Washing- 
ton.** In his reply there was no mention of my 
addressing him as a clergyman. But when I had 
occasion to write to him again, and persisted in 
making him a preacher, his second letter brought 
a postscript : " I have no claim to * Rev.' " I knew 
most of the coloured men who at that time had be- 
come prominent as leaders of their race, but I had 
not then known one who was neither a politician 
nor a preacher ; and I had not heard of the head 
of an important coloured school who was not a 
preacher. ** A new kind of man In the coloured 
world,** I said to myself — "a new kind of man 
surely if he looks upon his task as an economic one 
instead of a theological one.** I wrote him an apol- 
ogy for mistaking him for a preacher. 

The first time that I went to Tuskegee I was 
asked to make an address to the school on Sunday 
evening. I sat upon the platform of the large 
chapel and looked forth on a thousand coloured faces, 
and the choir of a hundred or more behind me sang 
a familiar religious melody, and the whole company 


joined in the chorus with unction. I was the only 
white man under the roof, and the scene and the 
songs made an impression on me that I shall never 
forget. Mr. Washington arose and asked them to 
sing one after another of the old melodies that I 
had heard all my life ; but I had never before heard 
them sung by a thousand voices nor by the voices 
of educated Negroes. I had associated them with 
the Negro of the past, not with the Negro who was 
struggling upward. They brought to my mind the 
plantation, the cabin, the slave, not the freedman in 
quest of education. But on the plantation and in 
the cabin they had never been sung as these thou- 
sand students sang them. I saw again all the old 
plantations that I had ever seen ; the whole history 
of the Negro ran through my mind ; and the in- 
expressible pathos of his life found expression in 
these songs as I had never before felt it. 

And the future? These were the ambitious 
youths of the race, at work with an earnestness that 
put to shame the conventional student life of most 
educational institutions. Another song rolled up 
along the rafters. And as soon as silence came, I 
found myself in front of this extraordinary mass of 
faces, thinking not of them, but of that long and 
unhappy chapter in our country's history which 
followed the one great structural mistake of the 


Fathers of the Republic ; thinking of the one con- 
tinuous great problem that generations of statesmen 
had wrangled oyer, and a million men fought about, 
and that had so dwarfed the mass of English men 
in the Southern States as to hold them back a hun- 
dred years behind their fellows in every other part 
of the world — in England, in Australia, and in the 
Northern and Western States; I was thinking of 
this dark shadow that had oppressed every large- 
minded statesman from Jefferson to Lincoln. These 
thousand young men and women about me were 
innocent victims of it. I, too, was an innocent 
victim of it. The whole Republic was a victim of 
that fundamental error of importing Africa into 
America. I held firmly to the first article of my 
faith that the Republic must stand fast by the 
principle of a fair ballot; but I recalled the 
wretched mess that Reconstruction had made of it ; 
I recalled the low level of public life in all the 
"black" States. Every effort of philanthropy 
seemed to have miscarried, every effort at correcting 
abuses seemed of doubtful value, and the race fric- 
tion seemed to become severer. Here was the 
century-old problem in all its pathos seated singing 
before me. Who were the more to be pitied — 
these innocent victims of an ancient wrong, or I 
and men like me, who had inherited the problem ? 


I had long ago thrown aside illusions and theories, 
and was willing to meet the facts face to face, and 
to do whatever in God*s name a man might do 
towards saving the next generation from such a 
burden. But I felt the weight of twenty well-nigh 
hopeless years of thought and reading and observa- 
tion ; for the old difficulties remained and new ones 
had sprung up. Then I saw clearly that the way 
out of a century of blunders had been made by this 
man who stood beside me and was introducing me 
to this audience. Before me was the material he 
had used. All about me was the indisputable evi- 
dence that he had found the natural line of develop- 
ment. He had shown the way. Time and patience 
and encouragement and work would do the rest 

It was then more clearly than ever before that I 
understood the patriotic significance of Mr. Wash- 
ington's work. It is this conception of it and of 
him that I have ever since carried with me. It is 
on this that his claim to our gratitude rests. 

To teach the Negro to read, whether English, or 
Greek, or Hebrew, butters no parsnips. To make 
the Negro work, that is what his master did in one 
way and hunger has done in another ; yet both these 
left Southern life where they found it. But to teach 
the Negro to do skjlful work, as men of all the 
races that have risen have worked, — responsible 


work, which is education and character ; and most 
of all when Negroes so teach Negroes to do this 
that they will teach others with a missionary zeal 
that puts all ordinary philanthropic efforts to shame, 

— this is to change the whole economic basis of life 
and the whole character of a people. 

The plan itself is not a new one. It was worked 
out at Hampton Institute, but it was done at 
Hampton by white men. The plan had, in fact, 
been many times theoretically laid down by thought- 
ful students of Southern life. Handicrafts were 
taught in the days of slavery on most well-managed 
plantations. But Tuskegee is, nevertheless, a brand- 
new chapter in the history of the Negro, and in the 
history of the knottiest problem we have ever faced. 
It not only makes " a carpenter of a man ; it makes 
a man of a carpenter.'* In one sense, therefore, it 
is of greater value than any other institution for the 
training of men and women that we have, from 
Cambridge to Palo Alto. It is almost the only one 
of which it may be said that it points the way to a 
new epoch in a large area of our national life. 

To work out the plan on paper, or at a distance 

— that is one thing. For a white man to work it 
out — that, too, is an easy thing. For a coloured 
man to work it out in the South, where, in its con- 
structive period, he was necessarily misunderstood 


by his own people as well as by the whites, and 
where he had to adjust it at every step to the 
strained race relations — that is so very different 
and more difficult a thing that the man who did it 
put the country under lasting obligations to him. 

It was not and is not a mere educational task. 
Anybody could teach boys trades and give them an 
elementary education. Such tasks have been done 
since the beginning of civilization. But this task 
had to be done with the rawest of raw material, 
done within the civilization of the dominant race, 
and so done as not to run across race lines and 
social lines that are the strongest forces in the com- 
munity. It had to be done for the benefit of the 
whole community. It had to be done, moreover, 
without local help, in the face of the direst poverty, 
done by begging, and done in spite of the ignorance 
of one race and the prejudice of the other. 

No man living had a harder task, and a task that 
called for more wisdom to do it right. The true 
measure of Mr. Washington's success is, then, not 
his teaching the pupils of Tuskegee, nor even gain- 
ing the support of philanthropic persons at a dis- 
tance, but this — that every Southern white man of 
character and of \yisdom has been won to a cordial 
recognition of the value of the work, even men who 
held and still hold to the conviction that a mere 


book education for the Southern blacks under pres- 
ent conditions is a positive evil. This is a demon- 
stration of the efficiency of the Hampton-Tuskegee 
idea that stands like the demonstration of the value 
of democratic institutions themselves — a demon- 
stration made so clear in spite of the greatest odds 
that it is no longer open to argument. 

Consider the change that has come in twenty 
years in the discussion of the Negro problem. 
Two or three decades ago social philosophers and 
statisticians and well-meaning philanthropists were 
still talking and writing about the deportation of 
the Negroes, or about their settlement within some 
restricted area, or about their settling in all parts 
of the Union, or about their decline through their 
neglect of their children, or about their rapid multi- 
plication till they should expel the whites from the 
South — of every sort of nonsense under heaven. 
All this has given place to the simple plan of an 
indefinite extension among the neglected classes of 
both races of the Hampton-Tuskegee system of 
training. The " problem " in one sense has disap- 
peared. The future will have for the South swift 
or slow development of its masses and of its soil in 
proportion to the swift or slow development of this 
kind of training. This change of view is a true 
measure of Mr. Washington's work. 


The Kterature of the Negro in America is colos- 
sal, from political oratory through abolitionism to 
" Uncle Tom's Cabin '* and " Cotton is King " — 
a vast mass of books which many men have read to 
the waste of good years (and I among them) ; but 
the only books that I have read a second time or 
ever care again to read in the whole list (most of 
them by tiresome and unbalanced " reformers ") are 
" Uncle Remus " and " Up from Slavery " ; for 
these are the great literature of the subject. One 
has all the best of the past, the other foreshadows a 
better future ; and the men who wrote them are the 
only men who have written of the subject with that 
perfect frankness and perfect knowledge and perfect 
poise whose other name is genius. 

Mr. Washington has won a world-wide fame at 
an early age. His story of his own life already has 
the distinction of translation into more languages, 
I think, than any other American book ; and I sup- 
pose that he has as large a personal acquaintance 
among men of influence as any private citizen now 

His own teaching at Tuskegee is unique. He 
lectures to his advanced students on the art of right 
living, not out of text-books, but straight out of life. 
Then he sends them into the country to visit Negro 
families. Such a student will come back with a 


minute report of the way in which the family that 
he has seen lives, what their earnings are, what they 
do well and what they do ill ; and he will explain 
how they might live better. He constructs a defi- 
nite plan for the betterment of that particular family 
out of the resources that they have. Such a student, 
if he be bright, will profit more by an experience 
like this than he could profit by all the books on 
sociology and economics that ever were written. I 
talked with a boy at Tuskegee who had made such 
a study as this, and I could not keep from contrast- 
ing his knowledge and enthusiasm with what I heard 
in a class room at a Negro university in one of the 
Southern cities, which is conducted on the idea that 
a college course will save the soul. Here the class 
was reciting a lesson from an abstruse text-book on 
economics, reciting it by rote, with so obvious a 
failure to assimilate it that the waste of labour was 

I asked Mr. Washington years ago what he re- 
garded as the most important result of his work, 
and he replied: 

" I do not know which to put first, the effect of 
Tuskegee's work on the Negro, or the effect on the 
attitude of the white man to the Negro." 

The race divergence under the system of mis- 
education was fast getting wider. Under the in- 


fluence of the Hampton-Tuskegee idea the races 
are coming into a closer sympathy and into an hon- 
ourable and helpful relation. As the Negro becomes 
economically independent, he becomes a responsible 
part of the Southern life ; and the whites so recog- 
nize him. And this must be so from the nature of 
things. There is nothing artificial about it. It is 
development in a perfectly natural way. And the 
Southern whites not only so recognize it, but they 
are imitating it in the teaching of the neglected 
masses of their own race. It has thus come about 
that the school is taking a more direct and helpful 
hold on life in the South than anywhere else in the 
country. Education is not a thing apart from life 
— not a "system," nor a philosophy; it is direct 
teaching how to live and how to work. 

To say that Mr. Washington has won the grati- 
tude of all thoughtful Southern white men, is to say 
that he has worked with the highest practical wis- 
dom at a large constructive task ; for no plan for 
the up-building of the freedman could succeed that 
ran counter to Southern opinion. To win the sup- 
port of Southern opinion and to shape it was a 
necessary part of the task; and in this he has so 
well succeeded that the South has a sincere and high 
regard for him. He once said to me that he re- 
called the day, and remembered it thankfully, when 


he grew large enough to regard a Southern white 
man as he regarded a Northern one. It is well for 
our common country that the day is come when he 
and his work are regarded as highly in the South as 
in any other part of the Union. I think that no 
man of our generation has a more noteworthy 
achievement to his credit than this; and it is an 
achievement of moral earnestness of the strong 
character of a man who has done a great national 

Walter H. Page. 


Booker T. Washington Frontispiece 


Samuel Chapman Armstrong 54 

An early portrait of Booker T. Washington ... 74 

Buildings on ground when purchased for the Tuskegee 
Institute, and used as first school buildings. One of 

them is still in use no 

Cottages formerly used as dormitories for boys, Tuskegee 

Institute no 

** The Pavilion," Tuskegee Institute, used as an auditorium 

before completion of chapel 148 

Samuel Chapman Armstrong late in life .... 164 

Residence of Mr. Washington at Tuskegee . . . 264 

Bird's-eye view of grounds and buildings of Tuskegee 

Institute . • 312 




I WAS born a slave on a plantation in Franklin 
County, Virginia. I am not quite sure of the 
exact place or exact date of my birth, but at 
any rate I suspect I must have been born somewhere 
and at some time. As nearly as I have been able 
to learn, I was born near a cross-roads post-office 
called Hale's Ford, and the year was 1858 or 1859. 
I do not know the month or the day. The earliest 
impressions I can now recall are of the plantation 
and the slave quarters — the latter being the part of 
the plantation where the slaves had their cabins. 

My life had its beginning in the midst of the 
most miserable, desolate, and discouraging sur- 
roundings. This was so, however, not because my 
owners were especially cruel, for they were not, as 
compared with many others. I was born in a typi- 


cal log cabin, about fourteen by sixteen feet square. 
In this cabin I lived with my mother and a brother 
and sister till after the Civil War, when we were all 
declared free. 

Of my ancestry I know almost nothing. In the 
slave quarters, and even later, I heard whispered con- 
versations among the coloured people of the tortures 
which the slaves, including, no doubt, my ancestors 
on my mother's side, suffered in the middle passage 
of the slave ship while being conveyed from Africa 
to America. I have been unsuccessful in securing 
any information that would throw any accurate light 
upon the history of my family beyond my mother. 
She, I remember, had a half-brother and a half- 
sister. In the days of slavery not very much atten- 
tion was given to family history and family records 
— that is, black family records. My mother, I sup- 
pose, attracted the attention of a purchaser who was 
afterward my owner and hers. Her addition to the 
slave family attracted about as much attention as 
the purchase of a new horse or cow. Of my father 
I know even less than of my mother. I do not 
even know his name. I have heard reports to the 
effect that he was a white man who lived on one of 
the near-by plantations. Whoever he was, I never 
heard of his taking the least interest in me or pro- 
viding in any way for my rearing. But I do not 


find especial fault with him. He was simpiy 
another unfortunate victim of the institution whick 
the Nation unhappily had engrafted upon it at that 

The cabin was not only our living-place, but was 
also used as the kitchen for the plantation. My 
mother was the plantation cook. The cabin was 
without glass windows ; it had only openings in the 
side which let in the light, and also the cold, chilly 
air of winter. There was a door to the cabin — 
that is, something that was called a door — but the 
uncertain hinges by which it was hung, and the 
large cracks in it, to say nothing of the fact that it 
was too small, made the room a very uncomfortable 
one. In addition to these openings there was, in the 
lower right-hand corner of the room, the " cat-hole," 
— a contrivance which almost every mansion or 
cabin in Virginia possessed during the ante-bellum 
period. The "cat-hole" was a square opening, 
about seven by eight inches, provided for the pur- 
pose of letting the cat pass in and out of the house 
at will during the night. In the case of our par- 
ticular cabin I could never understand the necessity 
for this convenience, since there were at least a half- 
dozen other places in the cabin that would have 
accommodated the cats. There was no wooden floor 
in our cabin, the naked earth being used as a floor. 


In the centre of the earthen floor there was a large, 
deep opening covered with boards, which was used 
as a place in which to store sweet potatoes during 
the winter. An impression of this potato-hole is 
very distinctly engraved upon my memory, because 
I recall that during the process of putting the 
potatoes in or taking them out I would often come 
into possession of one or two, which I roasted and 
thoroughly enjoyed. There was no cooking-stove 
on our plantation, and all the cooking for the 
whites and slaves my mother had to do over an 
open fireplace, mostly in pots and "skillets." 
While the poorly built cabin caused us to suflTer 
with cold in the winter, the heat from the open fire- 
place in summer was equally trying. 

The early years of my life, which were spent in 
the little cabin, were not very diflTerent from those 
of thousands of other slaves. My mother, of 
course, had little time in which to give attention to 
the training of her children during the day. She 
snatched a few moments for our care in the early 
morning before her work began, and at night after 
the day's work was done. One of my earliest 
recollections is that of my mother cooking a chicken 
late at night, and awakening her children for the 
purpose of feeding them. How or where she got 
it I do not know. I presume, however, it was pro- 


cured from our owner's farm. Some people may 
call this theft. If such a thing were to happen 
now, I should condemn it as theft myself. But 
taking place at the time it did, and for the reason 
that it did, no one could ever make me believe that 
my mother was guilty of thieving. She was simply 
a victim of the system of slavery. I cannot re- 
member having slept in a bed until after our family 
was declared free by the Emancipation Proclama- 
tion. Three children — John, my older brother, 
Amanda, my sister, and myself — had a pallet on 
the dirt floor, or, to be more correct, we slept in 
and on a bundle of filthy rags laid upon the dirt 

I was asked not long ago to tell something about 
the sports and pastimes that I engaged in during 
my youth. Until that question was asked it had 
never occurred to me that there was no period of 
my life that was devoted to play. From the time 
that I can remember anything, almost every day 
of my life has been occupied in some kind of 
labour ; though I think I would now be a more use- 
ful man if I had had time for sports. During the 
period that I spent in slavery I was not large 
enough to be of much service, still I was occupied 
most of the time in cleaning the yards, carrying 
water to the men in the fields, or going to the mill, 


to which I used to take the corn, once a week, to 
be ground. The mill was about three miles from 
the plantation. This work I always dreaded. The 
heavy bag of corn would be thrown across the back 
of the horse, and the corn divided about evenly on 
each side ; but in some way, almost without excep- 
tion, on these trips, the corn would so shift as to 
become unbalanced and would fall off the horse, 
and often I would fall with it. As I was not 
strong enough to reload the corn upon the horse, I 
would have to wait, sometimes for many hours, till 
a chance passer-by came along who would help me 
out of my trouble. The hours while waiting for 
some one were usually spent in crying. The time 
consumed in this way made me late in reaching the 
mill, and by the time I got my corn ground and 
reached home it would be far into the night. The 
road was a lonely one, and often led through dense 
forests. I was always frightened. The woods 
were said to be ftiU of soldiers who had deserted 
from the army, and I had been told that the first 
thing a deserter did to a Negro boy when he found 
him alone was to cut off his ears. Besides, when I 
was late in getting home I knew I would always 
get a severe scolding or a flogging. 
' I had no schooling whatever while I was a slave, 
though I remember on several occasions I went as 


far as the schoolhouse door with one of my young 
mistresses to carry her books. The picture of 
several dozen boys and girls in a schoolroom en- 
gaged in study made a deep impression upon me, 
and I had the feeling that to get into a school- 
house and study in this way would be about the 
same as getting into paradise. 

So far as I can now recall, the first knowledge 
that I got of the fact that we were slaves, and that 
freedom of the slaves was being discussed, was early 
one morning before day, when I was awakened by 
my mother kneeling over her children and fer- 
vently praying that Lincoln and his armies might 
be successful, and that one day she and her chil- 
dren might be free. In this connection I have 
never been able to understand how the slaves 
throughout the South, completely ignorant as were 
the masses so far as books or newspapers were con- 
cerned, were able to keep themselves so accurately 
and completely informed about the great National 
questions that were agitating the country. From 
the time that Garrison, Lovejoy, and others began 
to agitate for freedom, the slaves throughout the 
South kept in close touch with the progress of the 
movement. Though I was a mere child during 
the preparation for the Civil War and during the 
war itselfj I now recall the many late-at-night 


whispered discussions that I heard my mother and 
the other slaves on the plantation indulge in. 
These discussions showed that they understood the 
situation, and that they kept themselves informed 
of events by what was termed the "grape-vine" 

During the campaign when Lincoln was first a 
candidate for the Presidency, the slaves on our 
far-off plantation, miles from any railroad or large city 
or daily newspaper, knew what the issues involved 
were. When war was begun between the North 
and the South, every slave on our plantation felt 
and knew that, though other issues were discussed, 
the primal one was that of slavery. Even the most 
ignorant members of my race on the remote planta- 
tions felt in their hearts, with a certainty that admitted 
of no doubt, that the freedom of the slaves would be 
the one great result of the war, if the Northern armies 
conquered. Every success of the Federal armies and 
every defeat of the Confederate forces was watched 
with the keenest and most intense interest. Often 
the slaves got knowledge of the results of great battles 
before the white people received it. This news was 
usually gotten from the coloured man who was sent 
to the post-office for the mail. In our case the 
post-office was about three miles from the planta- 
tion, and the mail came once or twice a week. The 


man who was sent to the office would linger about 
the place long enough to get the drift of the con- 
versation from the group of white people who 
naturally congregated there, after receiving their 
mail, to discuss the latest news. The mail-carrier 
on his way back to our master's house would as 
naturally retail the news that he had secured among 
the slaves, and in this way they often heard of im- 
portant events before the white people at the " big 
house," as the master's house was called. 

I cannot remember a single instance during my 
childhood or early boyhood when our entire family 
sat down to the table together, and God's blessing 
was asked, and the family ate a meal in a civilized 
manner. On the plantation in Virginia, and even 
later, meals were gotten by the children very much 
as dumb animals get theirs. It was a piece of bread 
here and a scrap of meat there. It was a cup of 
milk at one time and some potatoes at another. 
Sometimes a portion of our family would eat out of 
the skillet or pot, while some one else would eat 
from a tin plate held on the knees, and often using 
nothing but the hands with which to hold the food. 
When I had grown to sufficient size, I was required 
to go to the " big house " at meal-times to fan the 
flies from the table by means of a large set of paper 
fans operated by a pulley. Naturally much of the 


conversation of the white people turned upon the 
subject of freedom and the war, and I absorbed a 
good deal of it. I remember that at one time I saw 
two of my young mistresses and some lady visitors 
eating ginger-cakes, in the yard. At that time those 
cakes seemed to me to be absolutely the most tempt- 
ing and desirable things that I had ever seen ; and I 
then and there resolved that, if I ever got free, the 
height of my ambition would be reached if I could 
get to the point where I could secure and eat 
ginger-cakes in the way that I saw those ladies 

Of course as the war was prolonged the white 
people, in many cases, often found it difficult to 
secure food for themselves. I think the slaves felt 
the deprivation less than the whites, because the 
usuai diet for the slaves was corn bread and pork, 
and these could be raised on the plantation ; but 
coffee, tea, sugar, and other articles which the 
whites had been accustomed to use could not be 
raised on the plantation, and the conditions brought 
about by the war frequently made it impossible to 
secure these things. The whites were often in great 
straits. Parched corn was used for coffee, and a 
kind of black molasses was used instead of sugar. 
Many times nothing was used to sweeten the so- 
called tea and cof¥ee. 


The first pair of shoes that I recall wearing were 
wooden ones. They had rough leather on the top, 
but the bottoms, which were about an inch thick, 
were of wood. When I walked they made a fearful 
noise, and besides this they were very inconvenient, 
since there was no yielding to the natural pressure 
of the foot. In wearing them one presented an 
exceedingly awkward appearance. The most trying 
ordeal that I was forced to endure as a slave boy, 
however, was the wearing of a flax shirt. In the 
portion of Virginia where I lived it was common 
to use flax as part of the clothing for the slaves. 
That part of the flax from which our clothing was 
made was largely the refuse, which of course was 
the cheapest and roughest part. I can scarcely 
Imagine any torture, except, perhaps, the pulling of 
a tooth, that is equal to that caused by putting on 
a new flax shirt for the first time. It is almost 
equal to the feeling that one would experience if 
he had a dozen or more chestnut burrs, or a hundred 
small pin-points, in contact with his flesh. Even 
to this day I can recall accurately the tortures that I 
underwent when putting on one of these garments. 
The fact that my flesh was soft and tender added to 
the pain. But I had no choice. I had to wear the 
flax shirt or none; and had it been left to me to 
choo8e^ I should have chosen to wear no covering. 


In connection with the flax shirt, my brother John, 
who is several years older than I am, performed one 
of the most generous acts that I ever heard of one 
slave relative doing for another. On several occa- 
sions when I was being forced to wear a new flax shirt, 
he generously agreed to put it on in my stead and 
wear it for several days, till it was "broken in." 
Until I had grown to be quite a youth this single 
garment was all that I wore. 

One may get the idea, from what I have said, that 
there was bitter feeling toward the white people on the 
part of my race, because of the fact that most of the 
white population was away fighting in a war which 
would result in keeping the Negro in slavery if the 
South was successful. In the case of the slaves on 
our place this was not true, and it was not true of 
any large portion of the slave population in the 
South where the Negro was treated with anything 
like decency. During the Civil War one of my 
young masters was killed, and two were severely 
wounded. I recall the feeling of sorrow which 
existed among the slaves when they heard of the 
death of " Mars* Billy." It was no sham sorrow, 
but real. Some of the slaves had nursed " Mars' 
Billy " ; others had played with him when he was a 
child. " Mars* Billy " had begged for mercy in 
the case of others when the overseer or master was 


thrashing them. The sorrow in the slave quarter 
was only second to that in the " big house." When 
the two young masters were brought home wounded, 
the sympathy of the slaves was shown in many 
ways. They were just as anxious to assist in the 
nursing as the family relatives of the wounded. 
Some of the slaves would even beg for the privilege 
of sitting up at night to nurse their wounded masters. 
This tenderness and sympathy on the part of those 
held in bondage was a result of their kindly and 
generous nature. In order to defend and protect 
the women and children who were left on the plan- 
tations when the white males went to war, the slaves 
would have laid down their lives. The slave who 
was selected to sleep in the " big house " during the 
absence of the males was considered to have the place 
of honour. Any one attempting to harm " young 
Mistress " or " old Mistress " during the night 
would have had to cross the dead body of the slave 
to do so. I do not know how many have noticed it, 
but I think that it will be found to be true that there 
are few instances, either in slavery or freedom, in 
which a member of my race has been known to 
betray a specific trust. 

As a rule, not only did the members of my race 
entertain no feelings of bitterness against the whites 
before and during the war, but there are many 


instances of Negroes tenderly caring for their 
former masters and mistresses who for some reason 
have become poor and dependent since the war. I 
know of instances where the former masters of 
slaves have for years been supplied with money by 
their former slaves to keep them from suffering. I 
have known of still other cases in which the former 
slaves have assisted in the education of the descend- 
ants of their former owners. I know of a case on 
a large plantation in the South in which a young 
white man, the son of the former owner of the estate, 
has become so reduced in purse and self-control by 
reason of drink that he is a pitiable creature ; and 
yet, notwithstanding the poverty of the coloured 
people themselves on this plantation, they have for 
years supplied this young white man with Ihe 
necessities of life. One sends him a little coffee 
or sugar, another a little meat, and so on. Nothing 
that the coloured people possess is too good for the 
son of " old Mars' Tom," who will perhaps never 
be permitted to suffer while any remain on the 
place who knew directly or indirectly of "old 
Mars' Tom." 

I have said that there are few instances of a 
member of my race betraying a specific trust. 
One of the best illustrations of this which I 
know of is in the case of an ex-slave from Virginia 


whom I met not long ago in a little town in the 
state of Ohio. I found that this man had made a 
contract with his master, two or three years previ- 
ous to the Emancipation Proclamation, to the effect 
that the slave was to be permitted to buy himself, 
by paying so much per year for his body; and while 
he was paying for himself, he was to be permitted 
to labour where and for whom he pleased. Finding 
that he could secure better wages in Ohio, he went 
there. When freedom came, he was still in debt to 
his master some three hundred dollars. Notwith- 
standing that the Emancipation Proclamation freed 
him from any obligation to his master, this black 
man walked the greater portion of the distance back 
to where his old master lived in Virginia, and placed 
the last dollar, with interest, in his hands. In talk- 
ing to me about this, the man told me that he 
knew that he did not have to pay the debt, but 
that he had given his word to his master, and his 
word he had never broken. He felt that he could 
not enjoy his freedom till he had fulfilled his 

From some things that I have said one may get 
the idea that some of the slaves did not want free- 
dom. This is not true. I have never seen one 
who did not want to be free, or one who would 
return to slavery. 


I pity from the bottom of my heart any nation 
or body of people that is so unfortunate as to get 
entangled in the net of slavery. I have long since 
ceased to cherish any spirit of bitterness against the 
Southern white people on account of the enslavement 
of my race. No one section of our country was 
wholly responsible for its introduction, and, besides, 
it was recognized and protected for years by the 
General Government. Having once got its tenta- 
cles fastened on to the economic and social life of 
the Republic, it was no easy matter for the country 
to relieve itself of the institution. Then, when we 
rid ourselves of prejudice, or racial feeling, and look 
facts in the face, we must acknowledge that, not- 
withstanding the cruelty and moral wrong of slavery, 
the ten million Negroes inhabiting this country, who 
themselves or whose ancestors went through the 
school of American slavery, are in a stronger and 
more hopeful condition, materially, intellectually, 
morally, and religiously, than is true of an equal 
number of black people in any other portion of the 
globe. This is so to such an extent that Negroes 
in this country, who themselves or whose forefathers 
went through the school of slavery, are constantly 
returning to Africa as missionaries to enlighten 
those who remained in the fatherland. This I say, 
not to justify slavery — on the other hand, I con- 


demn it as an institution, as we all know that in 
America it was established for selfish and financial 
reasons, and not from a missionary motive — but to 
call attention to a fact, and to show how Providence 
so often uses men and institutions to accomplish a 
purpose. When persons ask me in these days how, 
in the midst of what sometimes seem hopelessly 
discouraging conditions, I can have such faith in 
the future of my race in this country, I remind 
them of the wilderness through which and out of 
which, a good Providence has already led us. 

Ever since I have been old enough to think for 
myself, I have entertained the idea that, notwith- 
standing the cruel wrongs inflicted upon us, the 
black man got nearly as much out of slavery as 
the white man did. The hurtful influences of the 
institution were not by any means confined to the 
Negro. This was fully illustrated by the life upon 
our own plantation. The whole machinery of 
slavery was so constructed as to cause labour, as a 
rule, to be looked upon as a badge of degradation, 
of inferiority. Hence labour was something that 
both races on the slave plantation sought to escape. 
The slave system on our place, in a large measure, 
took the spirit of self-reliance and self-help out of 
the white people. My old master had many boys 
and girls, but not one, so far as I know, ever mas- 


tered a single trade or special line of productive 
industry. The girls were not taught to cook, sew, 
or to take care of the house. All of this was left 
to the slaves. The slaves, of course, had little per- 
sonal interest in the life of the plantation, and their 
ignorance prevented them from learning how to do 
things in the most improved and thorough manner. 
As a result of the system, fences were out of repair, 
gates were hanging half off the hinges, doors 
creaked, window-panes were out, plastering had 
fallen but was not replaced, weeds grew in the 
yard. As a rule, there was food for whites and 
blacks, but inside the house, and on the dining- 
room table, there was wanting that delicacy and 
refinement of touch and finish which can make a 
home the most convenient, comfortable, and attrac- 
tive place in the world. Withal there was a waste 
of food and other materials which was sad. When 
freedom came, the slaves were almost as well fitted 
to begin life anew as the master, except in the 
matter of book-learning and ownership of property. 
The slave owner and his son* had mastered no 
special industry. They unconsciously had imbibed 
the feeling that manual labour was not the proper 
thing for them. On the other hand, the slaves, 
in many cases, had mastered some handicraft, and 
none were ashamed, and few unwilling, to labour. 


Finally the war closed, and the day of freedom 
came. It was a momentous and eventful day to 
all upon our plantation. We had been expecting 
it. Freedom was in the air, and had been for 
months. Deserting soldiers returning to their 
homes were to be seen every day. Others who 
had been discharged, or whose regiments had been 
paroled, were constantly passing near our place. 
The "grape-vine telegraph" was kept busy night 
and day. The news and mutterings of great events 
were swiftly carried from one plantation to another. 
In the fear of " Yankee " invasions, the silverware 
and other valuables were taken from the "big 
house," buried in the woods, and guarded by 
trusted slaves. Woe be to any one who would 
have attempted to disturb the buried treasure. 
The slaves would give the Yankee soldiers food, 
drink, clothing « — anything but that which had been 
specifically intrusted to their care and honour. As 
the great day drew nearer, there was more singing 
in the slave quarters than usual. It was bolder, 
had more ring, and lasted later into the night. 
Most of the verses of the plantation songs had 
some reference to freedom. True, they had sung 
those same verses before, but they had been careful 
to explain that the " freedom " in these songs 
referred to the next world, and had no connection 


with life in this world. Now they gradually threw 
ofF the mask, and were not afraid to let it be known 
that the "freedom" in their songs meant freedom 
of the body in this world. The night before the 
eventful day, word was sent to the slave quarters 
to the effect that something unusual was going to 
take place at the "big house" the next morning. 
There was little, if any, sleep that night. All was 
excitement and expectancy. Early the next morn- 
ing word was sent to all the slaves, old and young, 
to gather at the house. In company with my 
mother, brother, and sister, and a large number of 
other slaves, I went to the master's house. All 
of our master's family were either standing or 
seated on the veranda of the house, where they 
could see what was to take place and hear what 
was said. There was a feeling of deep interest, or 
perhaps sadness, on their faces, but not bitterness. 
As I now recall the impression they made upon me, 
they did not at the moment seem to be sad because 
of the loss of property, but rather because of part- 
ing with those whom they had reared and who were 
in many ways very close to them. The most dis- 
tinct thing that I now recall in connection with the 
scene was that some man who seemed to be a 
stranger (a United* States officer, I presume) made 
a little speech and then read a rather long paper — 


the Emancipation Proclamation, I think. After 
the reading we were told that we were all free, and 
could go when and where we pleased. My mother, 
who was standing by my side, leaned over and 
kissed her children, while tears of joy ran down 
her cheeks. She explained to us what it all meant, 
that this was the day for which she had been so 
long praying, but fearing that she would never 
live to see. 

For some minutes there was great rejoicing, and - 
thanksgiving, and wild scenes of ecstasy. But there 
was no feeling of bitterness. In fact, there was pity 
among the slaves for our former owners. The wild 
rejoicing on the part of the emancipated coloured 
people lasted but for a brief period, for I noticed 
that by the time they returned to their cabins there 
was a change in their feelings. The great respon- 
sibility of being free, of having charge of them- 
selves, of having to think and plan for themselves 
and their children, seemed to take possession of 
them. It was very much like suddenly turning a 
youth of ten or twelve years out into the world to 
provide for himself. In a few hours the great 
questions with which the Anglo-Saxon race had 
been grappling for centuries had been thrown upon 
these people to be solved. These were the ques- 
tions of a home, a living, the rearing of children, 


education, citizenship, and the establishment and 
support of churches. Was it any wonder that 
within a few hours the wild rejoicing ceased and a 
feeling of deep gloom seemed to pervade the slave 
quarters ? To some it seemed that, now that they 
were in actual possession of it, freedom was a more 
serious thing than they had expected to find it. 
Some of the slaves were seventy or eighty years 
old ; their best days were gone. They had no 
strength with which to earn a living in a strange 
place and among strange people, even if they had 
been sure where to find a new place of abode. To 
this class the problem seemed especially hard. Be- 
sides, deep down in their hearts there was a strange 
and peculiar attachment to "old Marster" and 
"old Missus," and to their children, which they 
found it hard to think of breaking oflF. With these 
they had spent in some cases nearly a half-century, 
and it was no light thing to think of parting. 
Gradually, one by one, stealthily at first, the older 
slaves began to wander from the slave quarters back 
to the " big house " to have a whispered conversa- 
tion with their former owners as to the future. 



AFTER the coming of freedom there were 
two points upon which practically all the 
people on our place were agreed, and I find 
that this was generally true throughout the South : 
that they must change their names, and that they 
must leave the old plantation for at least a few days 
or weeks in order that they might really feel sure 
that they were free. 

In some way a feeling got among the coloured 
people that it was far from proper for them to bear 
the surname of their former owners, and a great 
many of them took other surnames. This was one 
of the first signs of freedom. When they were 
slaves, a coloured person was simply called " John " 
or ** Susan." There was seldom occasion for more 
than the use of the one name. If " John " or 
"Susan" belonged to a white man by the name 
of "Hatcher," sometimes he was called "John 
•Hatcher," or as often " Hatcher's John." But there 
was a feeling that " John Hatcher " or " Hatcher's 



John " was not the proper title by which to denote 
a freeman ; and so in many cases " John Hatcher " 
was changed to " John S. Lincoln " or " John S. 
Sherman," the initial " S " standing for no name, it 
being simply a part of what the coloured man 
proudly called his "entitles." 

As I have stated, most of the coloured people left 
the old plantation for a short while at least, so as to 
be sure, it seemed, that they could leave and try 
their freedom on to see how it felt. After they 
had remained away for a time, many of the older 
slaves, especially, returned to their old homes and 
made some kind of contract with their former 
owners by which they remained on the estate, 
jp My mother's husband, who was the stepfather of 
my brother John and myself, did not belong to the 
same owners as did my mother. In fact, he sel- 
dom came to our plantation. I remember seeing 
him there perhaps once a year, that being about 
Christmas time. In some way, during the war, by 
running away and following the Federal soldiers, 
it seems, he found his way into the new state of 
West Virginia. As soon as freedom was declared, 
he sent for my mother to come to the Kanawha 
Valley, in West Virginia. At that time a journey 
from Virginia over the mountains to West Virginia 
was rather a tedious and in some cases a painful 


undertaking. What little clothing and few house- 
hold goods we had were placed in a cart, but the 
children walked the greater portion of the distance, 
which was several hundred miles. 

I do not think any of us ever had been very far 
from the plantation, and the taking of a long jour- 
ney into another state was quite an event. The 
parting from our former owners and the members 
of our own race on the plantation was a serious 
occasion. From the time of our parting till their 
death we kept up a correspondence with the older 
members of the family, and in later years we have 
kept in touch with those who were the younger 
members. We were several weeks making the trip, 
and most of the time we slept in the open air and 
did our cooking over a log fire out-of-doors. One 
night I recall that we camped near an abandoned 
log cabin, and my mother decided to build a fire in 
that for cooking, and afterward to make a " pallet " 
on the floor for our sleeping. Just as the fire had 
gotten well started a large black snake fully a yard 
and a half long dropped down the chimney and ran 
out on the floor. Of course we at once abandoned 
that cabin. Finally we reached our destination — a 
little town called Maiden, which is about five miles 
from Charleston, the present capital of the state. 

At that time salt-mining was the great industry in 


that part of West Virginia, and the little town of 
Maiden was right in the midst of the salt-furnaces. 
My stepfather had already secured a job at a salt- 
furnace, and he had also secured a little cabin for us to 
live in. Our new house was no better than the one 
we had left on the old plantation in Virginia. In 
fact, in one respect it was worse. Notwithstanding 
the poor condition of our plantation cabin, we were at 
all times sure of pure air. Our new home was in the 
midst of a cluster of cabins crowded closely together, 
and as there were no sanitary regulations, the filth 
about the cabins was often intolerable. Some of our 
neighbours were coloured people, and some were the 
poorest and most ignorant and degraded white peo- 
ple It was a motley mixture. Drinking, gambling, 
quarrels, fights, and shockingly immoral practices 
were frequent. All who lived in the little town were 
in one way or another connected with the salt busi- 
ness. Though I was a mere child, my stepfather 
put me and my brother at work in one of the fur- 
naces. Often I began work as early as four o'clock 
in the morning. 

* The first thing I ever learned in the way of book 
knowledge was while working in this salt-furnace. 
Each salt-packer had his barrels marked with a cer- 
tain number. The number allotted to my step- 
father was " 1 8," At the close of the day's work 


the boss of the packers would come around and put 
" 18 " on each of our barrels, and I soon learned to 
recognize that figure wherever I saw it, and after a 
while got to the point where I could make that fig- 
ure, though I knew nothing about any other figures 
or letters. 

From the time that I can remember having any 
thoughts about anything, I recall that I had an in- 
tense longing to learn to read. I determined, when 
quite a small child, that, if I accomplished nothing 
else in life, I would in some way get enough educa- 
tion to enable me to read common books and news- 
papers. Soon after we got settled in some manner 
in our new cabin in West Virginia, I induced my 
mother to get hold of a book for me. How or 
where she got it I do not know, but in some way 
she procured an old copy of Webster's " blue-back '* 
spelling-book, which contained the alphabet, followed 
by such meaningless words as "ab," "ba," "ca,** 
" da." I began at once to devour this book, and I 
think that it was the first one I ever had in my 
hands. I had learned from somebody that the way 
to begin to read was to learn the alphabet, so I tried 
in all the ways I could think of to learn it, — all of 
course without a teacher, for I could find no one to 
teach me. At that time there was not a single mem- 
ber of my race anywhere near us who could read, 


and I was too timid to approach any of the white 
people. In some way, within a few weeks, I mas- 
tered the greater portion of the alphabet. In all 
my efforts to learn to read my mother shared fully 
my ambition, and sympathized with me and aided 
me in every way that she could. Though she was 
totally ignorant, so far as mere book knowledge was 
concerned, she had high ambitions for her children, 
and a large fund of good, hard, common sense 
which seemed to enable her to meet and master 
every situation. If I have done anything in life 
worth attention, I feel sure that I inherited the dis- 
position from my mother. 

In the midst of my struggles and longing for an 
education, a young coloured boy who had learned 
to read in the state of Ohio came to Maiden. As 
soon as the coloured people found out that he could 
read, a newspaper was secured, and at the close of 
nearly every day's work this young man would be 
surrounded by a group of men and women who 
were anxious to hear him read the news contained in 
the papers. How I used to envy this man ! He 
seemed to me to be the one young man in all the world 
who ought to be satisfied with his attainments. 

About this time the question of having some kind 
of a school opened for the coloured children in the 
village began to be discussed by members of the 


race. As it would be the first school for Negro 
children that had ever been opened in that part of 
Virginia, it was, of course, to be a great event, and 
the discussion excited the widest interest. The most 
perplexing question was where to find a teacher. 
The young man from Ohio who had learned to read 
the papers was considered, but his age was against 
him. In the midst of the discussion about a teacher, 
another young coloured man from Ohio, who- had 
been a soldier, in some way found his way into town. 
It was soon learned that he possessed considerable 
education, and he was engaged by the coloured peo 
pie to teach their first school. As yet no free schools 
had been started for coloured people in that section, 
hence each family agreed to pay a certain amount 
per month, with the understanding that the teacher 
was to " board *round " — that is, spend a day with 
each family. This was not bad for the teacher, for 
each family tried to provide the very best on the day 
the teacher was to be its guest. I recall that I looked 
forward with an anxious appetite to the " teacher's 
day ** at our little cabin. 

This experience of a whole race beginning to go 
to school for the first time, presents one of the most 
interesting studies that has ever occurred in connec- 
tion with the development of any race. Few peo- 
ple who were not right in the midst of the scenes 


can form any exact idea of the intense desire which 
the people of my race showed for an education. As 
I have stated, it was a whole race trying to go to 
school. Few were too young, and none too old, to 
make the attempt to learn. As fast as any kind of 
teachers could be secured, not only were day-schools 
filled, but night-schools as well. The great ambi- 
tion of the older people was to try to learn to read 
the Bible before they died. With this end in view, 
men and women who were fifty or seventy-five years 
old would often be found in the night-school. Sun- 
day-schools were formed soon after freedom, but the 
principal book studied in the Sunday-school was the 
spelling-book. Day-school, night-school, Sunday- 
school, were always crowded, and often many had to 
be turned away for want of room. 

The opening of the school in the Kanawha Val- 
ley, however, brought to me one of the keenest dis- 
appointments that I ever experienced. I had been 
working in a salt-furnace for several months, and my 
stepfather had discovered that I had a financial value, 
and so, when the school opened, he decided that he 
could not spare me from my work. This decision 
seemed to cloud my every ambition. The disap- 
pointment was made all the more severe by reason 
of the fact that my place of work was where I could 
pee the happy children passing to and from school, 


mornings and afternoons. Despite this disappoint- 
ment, however, I determined that I would learn 
something, anyway. I applied myself with greater 
earnestness than ever to the mastering of what was 
in the " blue-back ** speller. 

My mother sympathized with me in my disap- 
pointment, and sought to comfort me in all the ways 
she could, and to help me find a way to learn. 
After a while I succeeded in making arrangements 
with the teacher to give me some lessons at night, 
after the day's work was done. These night lessons 
were so welcome that I think I learned more at night 
than the other children did during the day. My 
own experiences in the night-school gave me faith in 
the night-school idea, with which, in after years, I 
had to do both at Hampton and Tuskegee. But 
my boyish heart was still set upon going to the day- 
school, and I let no opportunity slip to push my 
case. Finally I won, and was permitted to go to 
the school in the day for a few months, with the un- 
derstanding that I was to rise early in the morning 
and work in the furnace till nine o'clock, and return 
immediately after school closed in the afternoon for 
at least two more hours of work. 

The schoolhouse was some distance from the 
furnace, and as I had to work till nine o'clock, and 
the school opened at nine, I found myself in a diffi- 


culty. School would always be begun before I 
reached it, and sometimes my c*ass had recited. To 
get around this difficulty I yielded to a temptation 
for which most people, I suppose, will condemn me ; 
but since it is a fact, I might as well state it. I have 
great faith in the power and influence of facts. It is 
seldom that anything is permanently gained by hold- 
ing back a fact. There was a large clock in a little 
office in the furnace. This clock, of course, all the 
hundred or more workmen depended upon to regu- 
late their hours of beginning and ending the day's 
work. I got the idea that the way for me to reach 
school on time was to move the clock hands from 
half-past eight up to the nine o'clock mark. This 
* I found myself doing morning after morning, till 
the furnace " boss " discovered that something was 
wrong, and locked the clock in a case. • I did not 
mean to inconvenience anybody. I simply meant 
to reach that schoolhouse in time. 

When, however, I found myself at the school 
for the first time, I also found myself confronted 
with two other difficulties. In the first place, I 
found that all of the other children wore hats or 
caps on their heads, and I had neither hat nor cap. 
In fact, I do not remember that up to the time of 
going to school I had ever worn any kind of cover- 
ing upon my head, nor dp I recall that either I 


or anybody else had even thought anything about 
the need of covering for my head. But, cf course, 
when I saw how all the other boys were dressed, I 
began to feel quite uncomfortable. As usual, I 
put the case before my mother, and she explained 
to me that she had no money with which to buy a 
" store hat," which was a rather new institution at 
that time among the members of my race and was 
considered quite the thing for young and old to 
own, but that she would find a way to help me out 
of the difficulty. She accordingly got two pieces 
of " homespun " (jeans) and sewed them together, 
and I was soon the proud possessor of my first 

The lesson that my mother taught me in this has 
always remained with me, and I have tried as best 
I could to teach it to others. I have always felt 
proud, whenever I think of the incident, that my 
mother had strength of character enough not to be 
led into the temptation of seeming to be that which 
she was not — of trying to impress my schoolmates 
and others with the fact that she was able to buy 
me a " store hat " when she was not. I have always 
felt proud that she refused to go into debt for that 
which she did not have the money to pay for. 
Since that time I have owned many kinds of caps 
and hats, but never one of which I have felt so 


proud as of the cap made of the two pieces of CiOth 
sewed together by my mother. I have noted the 
fact, but without satisfaction, I need not add, that 
several of the boys who began their careers with 
"store hats"*and who were my schoolmates and 
used to join in the sport that was made of me 
because I had only a " homespun ** cap, have ended 
their careers in the penitentiary, while others are 
not able now to buy any kind of hat. 

My second difficulty was with regard to my 
name, or rather a name. From the time when I 
could remember anything, I had been called simply 
" Booker.'* Before going to school it had never 
occurred to me that it was needful or appropriate 
to have an additional name. When I heard the 
school-roll called, I noticed that all of the children 
had at least two names, and some of them indulged 
in what seemed to me the extravagance of having 
three. I was in deep perplexity, because I knew 
that the teacher would demand of me at least two 
names, and I had only one. By the time the occa- 
sion came for the enrolling of my name, an idea 
occurred to me which I thought would make me 
equal to the situation ; and so, when the teacher 
asked me what my full name was, I calmly told 
him " Booker Washington," as if I had been called 
by that name all my life ; and by that name I have 


since been known. Later in my life I found that 
my mother had given me the name of "Booker 
Taliaferro " soon after I was born, but in some way 
that part of my name seemed to disappear and for 
a long while was forgotten, but as soon as I found 
out about it I revived it, and made my full name 
** Booker Taliaferro Washington." I think there 
are not many men in our country who have had the 
privilege of naming themselves in the way that I 

More than once I have tried to picture myself in 
the position of a boy or man with an honoured and 
distinguished ancestry which I could trace back 
through a period of hundreds of years, and who 
had not only inherited a name, but fortune and a 
proud family homestead ; and yet I have sometimes 
had the feeling that if I had inherited these, and 
had been a member of a more popular race, I 
should have been inclined to yield to the tempta- 
tion of depending upon my ancestry and my colour 
to do that for me which I should do for myself. 
Years ago I resolved that because I had no ancestry 
myself I would leave a record of which my children 
would be proud, and which might encourage them 
to still higher effort. 

The world should not pass judgment upon the 
Negro, and especially the Negro youth, too quickly 


or too harshly* The Negro boy has obstacles, dis- 
couragements, and temptations to battle with that 
are little known to those not situated as he is. 
When a white boy undertakes a task, it is taken for 
granted that he will succeed. On the other hand, 
people are usually surprised if the Negro boy does 
not fail. In a word, the Negro youth starts out 
with the presumption against him. 

The influence of ancestry, however, is important 
in helping forward any individual or race, if too 
much reliance is not placed upon it. Those who 
constantly direct attention to the Negro youth's 
moral weaknesses, and compare his advancement 
with that of white youths, do not consider the 
influence of the memories which cling about the 
old family homesteads. I have no idea, as I have 
stated elsewhere, who my grandmother was. I 
have, or have had, uncles and aunts and cousins, 
but I have no knowledge as to where most of them 
are. My case will illustrate that of hundreds of 
thousands of black people in every part of our 
country. The very fact that the white boy is con- 
scious that, if he fails in life, he will disgrace the 
whole family record, extending back through many 
generations, is of tremendous value in helping him 
to resist temptations. The fact that the individual 
has behind and surrounding him proud family his- 


tory and connection serves as a stimulus to help 
him to overcome obstacles when striving for suc- 

The time that I was permitted to attend school 
during the day was short, and my attendance was 
irregular. It was not long before I had to stop 
attending day-school altogether, and devote all of 
my time again to work. I resorted to the night- 
school again. In fact, the greater part of the 
education I secured in my boyhood was gathered 
through the night-school after my day's work was 
done. I had difficulty often in securing a satis- 
factory teacher. Sometimes, after I had secured 
some one to teach me at night, I would find, much 
to my disappointment, that the teacher knew but 
little more than I did. Often I would have to 
walk several miles at night in order to recite my 
night-school lessons. There was never a time in 
my youth, no matter how dark and discouraging 
the days might be, when one resolve did not con- 
tinually remain with me, and that was a determina- 
tion to secure an education at any cost. 

Soon after we moved to West Virginia, my 
mother adopted into our family, notwithstanding 
our poverty, an orphan boy, to whom afterward we 
gave the name of James B. Washington. He has 
ever since remained a member of the family. 


After I had worked in the salt-fiirnace for some 
time, work was secured for me in a coal-mine which 
was operated mainly for the purpose of securing 
fiiel for the salt-furnace. Work in the cpal-mine I 
always dreaded. One reason for this was that any 
one who worked in a coal-mine was always unclean, 
at least while at work, and it was a very hard job to 
get one's skin clean after the day's work was over. 
Then it was fully a mile from the opening of the 
coal-mine to the face of the coal, and all, of course, 
was in the blackest darkness. I do not believe that 
one ever experiences anywhere else such darkness 
as he does in a coal-mine. The mine was divided 
into a large number of different "rooms" or de- 
partments, and, as I never was able to learn the 
location of all these " rooms,*' I many times found 
myself lost in the mine. To add to the horror of 
being lost, sometimes my light would go out, and 
then, if I did not happen to have a match, I would 
wander about m the darkness until by chance I 
found some one to give me a light. The work 
was not only hard, but it was dangerous. There 
was always the danger of being blown to pieces by a 
^premature explosion of powder, or of being crushed 
by falling slate. Accidents from one or the other 
of these causes were frequently occurring, and this 
kept me in constant fear. Many children of the 


tenderest yeara were compelled then, as is now true 
I fear, in most coal-rmining districts, to spend a 
large part of their lives in these coal-rmines, with 
little opportunity to get an education ; and, what is 
worse, I have often noted that, as a rule, young 
boys who begin life in a coal-mine are often physi:- 
cally and mentally dwarfed. They soon lose ^mbi^ 
tion to do anything else than to continue as a 

In those days, and later as a young man, I used 
to try to picture in my imagination the feelings and 
ambitions of a white boy with absolutely no limit 
placed upon his aspirations and activities. I used 
to envy the white boy who had no obstacles placed 
in the way of his becoming a Congressman, Gov- 
ernor, Bishop, or President by reason of the accident 
of his birth or race. I used to picture th^ way that 
I would act under such circumstances ; how I would 
begin at the bottom and keep rising until I reached 
the highest round of success. 

In later year^, I confess that I do not envy the 
white boy as I once did. I have learned that suc- 
cess is to be measured not so much by the position 
that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which 
he has overcome while trying to succeed* Looked 
at from this standpoint, I almost reach the conclu^ 
sion that often the Negro bo/s birth and connection 


with an unpopular race is an advantage, so far as 
real life is concerned. With few exceptions, the 
Negro youth must work harder and must perform 
his tasks even better than a white youth in order to 
secure recognition. But out of the hard and un- 
usual struggle through which he is compelled to 
pass, he gets a strength, a confidence, that one 
misses whose pathway is comparatively smooth by 
reason of birth and race. 

From any point of view, I had rather be what I 
am, a member of the Negro race, than be able to 
claim membership with the most favoured of any 
other race. I have always been made sad when I 
have heard members of any race claiming rights and 
privileges, or certain badges of distinction, on the 
ground simply that they were members of this or 
that race, regardless of their own individual worth 
or attainments. I have been made to feel sad for 
such persons because I am conscious of the fact 
that mere connection with what is known as a 
superior race will not permanently carry an indi- 
vidual forward unless he has individual worth, and 
mere connection with what is regarded as an inferior 
race will not finally hold an individual back if he 
possesses intrinsic, individual merit. Every perse- 
cuted individual and race should get much consola- 
tion out of the great human law, which is universal 


and eternal, that merit, no matter under what skin 
found, is, in the long run, recognized and rewarded. 
This I have said here, not to call attention to my- 
self as an individual, but to the race to which I am 
proud to belong. 




ONE day, while at work In the coal-mine, I 
happened to overhear two miners talking 
about a great school for coloured people 
somewhere in Virginia. This was the first time 
that I had ever heard anything about any kind of 
school or college that was more pretentious than 
the little coloured school in our town. 

In the darkness of the mine I noiselessly crept 
as close as I could to the two men who were talking. 
I heard one tell the other that not only was the 
school established for the members of my race, but 
that opportunities were provided by which poor but 
worthy students could work out all or a part of the 
cost of board, and at the same time be taught some 
trade or industry. 

As they went on describing the school, it seemed 
to me that it must be the greatest place on earth, 
and not even Heaven presented more attractions for 
me at that time than did the Hampton Normal and 
Agricultural Institute in Virginia, about which these 



men were talking. I resolved at once to go to that 
school, although I had no idea where it was, or how 
many miles away, or how I was going to reach it ; I 
remembered only that I was on fire constantly with 
one ambition, and that was to go to Hampton. 
This thought was with me day and night. 

After hearing of the Hampton Institute, I con- 
tinued to work for a few months longer in the coal- 
mine. While at work there, I heard of a vacant 
position in the household of General Lewis RufFner, 
the owner of the salt-furnace and coal-mine. Mrs. 
Viola RufFner, the wife of General RufFner, was a 
"Yankee" woman from Vermont. Mrs. RufFner 
had a reputation all through the vicinity for being 
very strict with her servants, and especially with the 
boys who tried to serve her. Few of them had 
remained with her more than two or three weeks. 
They all left with the same excuse : she was too 
strict. I decided, however, that I would rather try 
Mrs. RufFner's house than remain in the coal-mine, 
and so my mother applied to her for the vacant 
position. I was hired at a salary of ^5 per month. 

I had heard so much about Mrs. RufFner^s 
severity that I was almost afraid to see her, and 
trembled when I went into her presence. I had 
not lived with her many weeks, however, before I 
began to understand her. I soon began to learn 


that, first of all, she wanted everything kept clean 
about her, that she wanted things done promptly 
and systematically, and that at the bottom of every- 
thing she wanted absolute honesty and frankness. 
Nothing must be sloven or slipshod ; every door, 
every fence, must be kept in repair. 

I cannot now recall how long I lived with Mrs. 
RufFner before going to Hampton, but I think it 
must have been a year and a half. At any rate, I 
here repeat what I have said more than once before, 
that the lessons that I learned in the home of Mrs. 
RufFner were as valuable to me as any education I 
have ever gotten anywhere since. Even to this day 
I never see bits of paper scattered around a house 
or in the street that I do not want to pick them up 
at once. I never see a filthy yard that I do not 
want to clean it, a paling oflF of a fence that I do not 
want to put it on, an unpainted or unwhitewashed 
house that I do not want to paint or whitewash it, 
or a button oflF one's clothes, or a grease-spot on 
them or on a floor, that I do not want to call 
attention to it. 

From fearing Mrs. RuflFner I soon learned to 
look upon her as one of my best friends. When 
she found that slie could trust me she did so im- 
plicitly. During the one or two winters that I was 
with her she gave me an opportunity to go to 


school for an hour in the day during a portion of 
the winter months, but most of my studying was 
done at night, sometimes alone, sometimes under 
some one whom I could hire to teach me. Mrs. 
RufFner always encouraged and sympathized with 
me in all my efforts to get an education. It was 
while living with her that I began to get together my 
first library. I secured a dry-goods box, knocked out 
one side of it, put some shelves in it, and began 
putting into it every kind of book that I could get 
my hands upon, and called it my " library." 

Notwithstanding my success at Mrs. Ruffner's 
I did not give up the idea of going to the Hamp- 
ton Institute. In the fall of 1872 I determined to 
make an effort to get there, although, as I have 
stated, I had no definite idea of the direction in 
which Hampton was, or of what it would cost to 
go there. I do not think that any one thoroughly 
sympathized with me in my ambition to go to 
Hampton unless it was my mother, and she was 
troubled with a grave fear that I was starting out 
on a " wild-goose chase." At any rate, I got only 
a half-hearted consent from her that I might start. 
The small amount of money that I had earned had 
been consumed by my stepfather and the remainder 
of the family, with the exception of a very few dol- 
lars, and so I had very little with which to buy 


clothes :ind pay my travelling expenses^ My 
brother John helped me all that he could, but of 
course that was not a great deal, for his work was 
in the coal-mine, where he did not earn much, and 
most of what he did earn went in the direction of 
paying the household expenses. 

Perhaps the thing that touched and pleased me 
most in connection with my starting for Hampton 
was the interest that many of the older coloured 
people took in the matter. They had spent the 
best days of their lives in slavery, and hardly ex- 
pected to live to see the time when they would see 
a member of their race leave home to attend a 
boarding-school. Some of these older people 
would give me a nickel, others a quarter, or a 

Finally the great day came, and I started for 
Hampton. I had only a small, cheap satchel that 
contained what few articles of clothing 1 could get* 
My mother at the time was rather weak and broken 
in health. I hardly expected to see her again, and 
thus our parting was all the more sad* She, how- 
ever, was very brave through it all. At that time 
there were no through trains connecting that part 
of West Virginia with eastern Virginia. Trains ran 
only a portion of the way, and the remainder of 
the distance was travelled by stage-cOaches. 


The distaiicd from Maiden to Hampton is about 
five hundred miles^ I had not been away from 
home many hours before it began to grow painfully 
evident that I did not have enough money to pay 
my fare to Hampton. Ohe experience I shall long 
remember. I had been travelling over the moun- 
tains most of the afternoon in an old-fashioned 
stage-coach, when, late in the evening, the coach 
stopped for the hight at a common, unpainted 
house called a hotel. All the other passengers 
except myself were whites. In my ignorance I 
supposed that the little hotel existed for the pur- 
pose of accommodating the passengers who trav- 
elled on the stage-coach. The difference that the 
colour of one's skin would make I had not thought 
anything about* After all the other passengers had 
been shown rooms and were getting ready for sup- 
per, I shyly presented myself before the man at 
the desk. It is true I had practically no money in 
my pocket with which to pay for bed or food, but I 
had hoped in some way to beg my way into the 
good graces of the landlord, for at that season in 
the mountains of Virginia the weather was cold, and 
I wanted to get indoors for the night. Without 
aflking as to whether I had any money, the man at 
the desk firmly refused to even consider the matter 
of providing me with food or lodging. This was 


my first experience in finding out what the colour of 
my skin meant. In some way I managed to keep 
warm by walking about, and so got through the 
night. My whole soul was so bent upon reaching 
Hampton that I did not have time to cherish any 
bitterness toward the hotel-keeper. 
* By walking, begging rides both in wagons and 
in the cars, in some way, after a number of days, I 
reached the city of Richmond, Virginia, about 
eighty-two miles from Hampton. When I reached 
there, tired, hungry, and dirty, it was late in the 
night. I had never been in a large city, and this 
rather added to my misery. When I reached 
Richmond, I was completely out of money. I had 
not a single acquaintance in the place, and, being 
unused to city ways, I did not know where to go. 
I applied at several places for lodging, but they all 
wanted money, and that was what I did not have. 
Knowing nothing else better to do, I walked the 
streets. In doing this I passed by many food- 
stands where fried chicken and half-moon apple 
pies were piled high and made to present a most 
tempting appearance. At that time it seemed to 
me that I would have promised all that I expected 
to possess in the future to have gotten hold of one 
of those chicken legs or one of those pies. But I 
could not get either of these, nor anything else to eat. 


I must have walked the streets till after mid- 
night. At last I became so exhausted that I could 
walk no longer. I was tired, I was hungry, I was 
everything but discouraged. Just about the time 
when I reached extreme physical exhaustion, I came 
upon a portion of a street where the board sidewalk 
was considerably elevated. I waited for a few min- 
utes, till I was sure that no passers-by could see 
me, and then crept under the sidewalk and lay for 
the night upon the ground, with my satchel of 
clothing for a pillow. Nearly all night I could 
hear the tramp of feet over my head. The next 
morning I found myself somewhat refreshed, but I 
was extremely hungry, because it had been a long 
time since I had had sufficient food. As soon as it 
became light enough for me to see my surround- 
ings I noticed that I was near a large ship, and that 
this ship seemed to be unloading a cargo of pig 
iron. I went at once to the vessel and asked the 
captain to permit me to help unload the vessel in 
order to get money for food. The captain, a white 
man, who seemed to be kind-hearted, consented. 
I worked long enough to earn money for my 
breakfast, and it seems to me, as I remember It 
now, to have been about the best breakfast that I 
have ever eaten. 

My work pleased the captain so well that he told 


me if I desired I could continue working for a 
small amount per day. This I was very glad to 
do* I continued working on this vessel for a num- 
ber of days* After buying food with the small 
wages I received there was not much left to add to 
the amount I must get to pay my way to Hamp- 
ton* In order to economiix in every way possible, 
so as to be sure to reach Hampton in a reasonable 
time^ I continued to sleep under the same sidewalk 
that gave me shelter the first night I was in Rich- 
mond. Many years after that the coloured citizens 
of Richmond very kindly tendered me a reception 
at which there must have been two thousand peo- 
ple present. This reception was held not far from 
the spot where I slept the first night I spent in 
that cityi and I must confess that my mind was 
more upon the sidewalk that first gave me shelter 
than upon the reception^ agreeable and cordial as it 

When I had saved what I considered enough 
money with which to reach Hampton, I thanked 
the captain of the vessel for his kindness, and 
started again. Without any unusual occurrence I 
reached Hampton, with a surplus of exactly fifty 
cents with which to begin my education. To me 
it had been a long, eventful journey ; but the first 
sight of the lat^e, three-story, brick school building 


seemed to have rewarded me for all that I had 
undergone in order to reach the place. If the peo- 
ple who gave the money to provide that building 
could appreciate the influence the sight of it had 
upon me, as well as upon thousands of other 
youths, they would feel all the more encouraged to 
make such gifts. It seemed to me to be the largest 
and most beautiful building I had ever seen. The 
sight of it seemed to give me new life. I felt that 
a new kind of existence had now begun — that life 
would now have a new meaning. I felt that I had 
reached the promised land, and I resolved to let no 
obstacle prevent me from putting forth the highest 
eflTort to fit myself to accomplish the most good in 
the world. 

As soon as possible after reaching the grounds 
of the Hampton Institute, I presented myself 
before the head teacher for assignment to a class. 
Having been so long without proper food, a bath, 
and change of clothing, I did not, of course, make 
a very favourable impression upon her, and I could 
see at once that there were doubts in her mind 
about the wisdom of admitting me as a student, I 
felt that I could hardly blame her if she got the 
idea that I was a worthless loafer or tramp. For 
some time she did not refuse to admit me, neither 
did she decide in my favour, and I continued to 


linger about her, and to impress her in all the ways 
I could with my worthiness. In the meantime I 
saw her admitting other students, and that added 
greatly to my discomfort, for I felt, deep down in 
my heart, that I could do as well as they, if I could 
only get a chance to show what was in me. 
^ After some hours had passed, the head teacher 
said to me : " The adjoining recitation-room needs 
sweeping. Take the broom and sweep it." 

It occurred to me at once that here was my 
chance. Never did I receive an order with more 
delight. I knew that I could sweep, for Mrs. RufF- 
ner had thoroughly taught me how to do that when 
I lived with her. 

I swept the recifation-room three times. Then I 
got a dusting-cloth and I dusted it four times. All 
the woodwork around the walls, every bench, table, 
and desk, I went over four times with my dusting- 
cloth. Besides, every piece of furniture had been 
moved and every closet and corner in the room had 
been thoroughly cleaned. I had the feeling that 
in a large measure my future depended upon the 
impression I made upon the teacher in the cleaning 
of that room. When I was through, I reported to 
the head teacher. She was a " Yankee " woman who 
knew just where to look for dirt. She went into 
che room and inspected the floor and closets ; then 


she took her handkerchief and rubbed it on the 
woodwork about the walls, and over the table and 
benches. When she was unable to find one bit of 
dirt on the floor, or a particle of dust on any of the 
furniture, she quietly remarked, " I guess you will 
do to enter this institution." 

I was one of the happiest souls on earth. The ' 
sweeping of that room was my college examination, 
and never did any youth pass an examination for 
entrance into Harvard or Yale that gave him more 
genuine satisfaction. I have passed several exami- 
nations since then, but I have always felt that this 
was the best one I ever passed. 

I have spoken of my own experience in entering the 
Hampton Institute. Perhaps few, if any, had any- 
thing like the same experience that I had, but about 
that same period there were hundreds who found 
their way to Hampton and other institutions after 
experiencing something of the same difficulties that 
I went through. The young men and women were 
determined to secure an education at any cost. 

The sweeping of the recitation-room in the man 
ner that I did it seems to have paved the way foi 
me to get through Hampton. Miss Mary F, 
Mackie, the head teacher, offered me a position as 
janitor. This, of course, I gladly accepted, because 
it was a place where I could work out nearly all the 



eost of my board. The work wis hard and taxing, 
but I stuck to it. I had a large number of rooms 
to care for, and had to work late into the night, 
while at the same time I had to rise by four o'clock 
in the morning, in order to build the fires and have 
a little time in which to prepare my lessons. In all 
my career at Hampton, and ever since I have been 
out in the world, Miss Mary F. Mackie, the head 
teacher to whom I have referred, proved one of my 
strongest and most helpful friends. Her advice and 
encouragement were always helpful and strengthen^ 
ing to me in the darkest hour. 

I have spoken of the impression that was made 
upon me by the buildings and general appearance 
of the Hampton Institute, but I have not spoken 
of that which made the greatest and most lasting 
impression upon me, and that was a great man — ^ 
the noblest, rarest human being that it has ever been 
my privilege to meet. I refer to the late General 
Samuel C. Armstrong. 

It has been my fortune to meet personally many 
of what are called great characters, both in Europe 
and America, but I do not hesitate to say that I 
never met any man who, in my estimation, waE 
the equal of General Armstrong. Fresh from the 
degrading influences of the slave plantation and the 
coal*-mines, it was a rare privilege for me to be 

•jf'- . r 


permitted to come into direct contact with such a 
character as General Armstrong, I shall always 
remember that the first time I went into his presence 
he made the impression upon me of being a perfect 
man ; I was made to feel that there was something 
about him that, was superhuman. It was my privi- 
lege to know the General personally from the time 
I entered Hampton till he died, and the more I saw 
of him the greater he grew in my estimation. One 
might have removed from Hampton all the build- 
ings, class-rooms, teachers, and industries, and given 
the men and women there the opportunity of coming 
into daily contact with General Armstrong, and that 
alone would have been a liberal education. The 
older I grow, the more I am convinced that there is 
no education which one can get from books and 
costly apparatus that is equal to that which can be 
gotten from contact with great men and women. 
Instead of studying books so constantly, how I wish 
that our schools and colleges might learn to study 
men and things ! 

General Armstrong spent two of the last six 
months of his life in my home at Tuskegee, At 
that time he was paralyzed to the extent that he had 
lost control of his body and voice in a very large 
degree. Notwithstanding his affliction, he worked 
almost constantly night and day for the cause to 


which he had given his life. I never saw a man 
who so completely lost sight of himself. I do not 
believe he ever had a selfish thought. He was just 
as happy in trying to assist some other institution 
in the South as he was when working for Hampton. 
Although he fought the Southern white man in the 
Civil War, I never heard him utter a bitter word 
against him afterward. On the other hand, he was 
constantly seeking to find ways by which he could 
be of service to the Southern whites. 

It would be diflScult to describe the hold that he 
had upon the students at Hampton, or the faith 
they had in him. In fact, he was worshipped by his 
students. It never occurred to me that General 
Armstrong could fail in anything that he undertook. 
There is almost no request that he could have made 
that would not have been complied with. When he 
was a guest at my home in Alabama, and was so 
badly paralyzed that he had to be wheeled about in 
an invalid's chair, I recall that one of the General's 
former students had occasion to push his chair up 
a long, steep hill that taxed his strength to the 
utmost. When the top of the hill was reached, the 
former pupil, with a glow of happiness on his facej 
exclaimed, " I am so glad that I have been permitted 
to do something that was real hard for the General 
before he dies ! " While I was a student at Hamp- 



ton, the dormitories became so crowded that it was 
impossible to find room for all who wanted to be 
admitted. In order to help remedy the difficulty, 
the General conceived the plan of putting up tents 
to be used as rooms. As soon as it became known 
that General Armstrong would be pleased if some 
of the older students would live in the tents during 
the winter, nearly every student in school volunteered 
to go. 

I was one of the volunteers. The winter that we 
spent in those tents was an intensely cold one, and 
we suflfered severely — how much I am sure Gen- 
eral Armstrong never knew, because we made no 
complaints. It was enough for us to know that we 
were pleasing General Armstrong, and that we were 
making it possible for an additional number of stu- 
dents to secure an education. More than once, 
during a cold night, when a stiflT gale would be blow- 
ing, our tent was lifted bodily, and we would find our- 
selves in the open air. The General would usually 
pay a visit to the tents early in the morning, and 
his earnest, cheerful, encouraging voice would dispel 
any feeling of despondency. 

I have spoken of my admiration for General 
Armstrong, and yet he v/as but a type of that 
Christlike body of men and women who went into 
the Negro schools at the close of the war by the 


hundreds to assist in lifting up my race. The his- 
tory of the world fails to show a higher, purer, and 
more unselfish class of men and women than those 
who found their way into those Negro schools. 

Life at Hampton was a constant revelation to me ; 
was constantly taking me into a new world. The 
matter of having meals at regular hours, of eating 
on a tablecloth, using a napkin, the use of the bath- 
tub and of the tooth-brush, as well as the use of 
sheets upon the bed, were all new to me. 

I sometimes feel that almost the most valuable 
lesson I got at the Hampton Institute was in the use 
and value of the bath. I learned there for the first 
time some of its value, not only in keeping the 
body healthy, but in inspiring self-respect and pro- 
moting virtue. In all my travels in the South and 
elsewhere since leaving Hampton I have always in 
some way sought my daily bath. To get it some- 
times when I have been the guest of my own people 
in a single-roomed cabin has not always been easy 
to do, except by slipping away to some stream in 
the woods. I have always tried to teach my people 
that some provision for bathing should be a part of 
every house. 

For some time, while a student at Hampton, I 
possessed but a single pair of socks, but when I had 
worn these till they became soiled, I would wash 


them at night and hang them by the fire to dry, so 
that I might wear them again the next morning. 

The charge for my board at Hampton was ten 
dollars per month. I was expected to pay a part 
of this in cash and to work out the remainder. To 
meet this cash payment, as I have stated, I had 
just fifty cents when I reached the institution. 
Aside from a very few dollars that my brother 
John was able to send me once in a while, I had 
no money with which to pay my board. I was 
determined from the first to make my work as 
janitor so valuable that my services would be 
indispensable. This I succeeded in doing to such 
an extent that I was soon informed that I would 
be allowed the full cost of my board in return for 
my work. The cost of tuition was seventy dollars 
a year. This, of course, was wholly beyond my 
ability to provide. If I had been compelled to pay 
the seventy dollars for tuition, in addition to pro- 
viding for my board, I would have been compelled 
to leave the Hampton school. General Armstrong, 
however, very kindly got Mr. S. Griffitts Morgan, 
of New Bedford, Mass., to defray the cost of my 
tuition during the whole time that I was at Hamp- 
ton. After I finished the course at Hampton and 
had entered upon my lifework at Tuskegee, I had 
the pleasure of visiting Mr. Morgan several times. 


After having been for a while at Hampton, I 
found myself in difficulty because I did not have 
books and clothing. Usually, however, I got 
around the trouble about books by borrowing from 
those who were more fortunate than myself. As 
to clothes, when I reached Hampton I had practi- 
cally nothing. Everything that I possessed was in 
a small hand satchel. My anxiety about clothing 
was increased because of the fact that General Arm- 
strong made a personal inspection of the young 
men in ranks, to see that their clothes were clean. 
Shoes had to be polished, there must be no buttons 
off the clothing, and no grease-spots. To wear one 
suit of clothes continually, while at work and in the 
schoolroom, and at the same time keep it clean, was 
rather a hard problem for me to solve. In some 
way I managed to get on till the teachers learned 
that I was in earnest and meant to succeed, and 
then some of them were kind enough to see that I 
was partly supplied with second-hand clothing that 
had been sent in barrels from the North. These 
barrels prbved a blessing to hundreds of poor but 
deserving students. Without them I question 
whether I should ever have gotten through 

When I first went to Hampton I do not recall 
that I had ever slept in a bed that had two sheets 


on it. In those days there were not many build- 
ings there, and room was very precious. There 
were seven other boys in the same room with me ; 
most of them, however, students who had been 
there for some time. The sheets were quite a puz- 
zle to me. The first night I slept under both of 
them, and the second night I slept on top of both 
of them; but by watching the other boys I learned 
my lesson in this, and have been trying to follow 
it ever since and to teach it to others. 

I was among the youngest of the students who 
were in Hampton at that time. Most of the stu- 
dents were men and women — some as old as forty 
years of age. As I now recall the scene of my first 
year, I do not believe that one often has the oppor- 
tunity of coming into contact with three or four 
hundred men and women who were so tremendously 
in earnest as these men and women were. Every 
hour was occupied in study or work. Nearly all 
had had enough actual contact with the world to 
teach them the need of education. Many of the 
older ones were, of course, too old to master the 
text-books very thoroughly, and it was often sad 
to watch their struggles; but they made up in 
earnestness much of what they lacked in books. 
Many of them were as poor as I was, and, besides 
having to wrestle with their books, they had to 


sttuggle with a poverty which prevented their hav- 
ing the necessities of life. Many of them had aged 
parents who were dependent upon them, and some 
of them were men who had wives whose support in 
some way they had to provide for. 

The great and prevailing idea that seemed to 
take possession of every one was to prepare him- 
self to lift up the people at his home. No one 
seemed to think of himself. And the officers and 
teachers, what a rare set of human beings they 
were! They worked for the students night and 
day, in season and out of season. They seemed 
happy only when they were helping the students 
in some manner. Whenever it is written — and I 
hope it will be — the part that the Yankee teachers 
played in the education of the Negroes immediately 
after the war will make one of the most thrilling 
parts of the history of this country. The time is 
not far distant when the whole South will appre- 
ciate this service in a way that it has not yet been 
able to do. 



AT the end of my first year at Hampton I was 
confronted with another difficulty. Most 
* of the students went home to spend their 
vacation. I had no money with which to go home, 
but I had to go somewhere. In those days very 
few students were permitted to remain at the school 
during vacation. It made me feel very sad and 
homesick to see the other students preparing to 
leave and starting for home. I not only had no 
money with which to go home, but I had none with 
which to go anywhere. 

In some way, however, I had gotten hold of an 
extra, second-hand coat which I thought was a 
pretty valuable coat. This I decided to sell, in 
order to get a little money for travelling expenses. 
I had a good deal of boyish pride, and I tried to 
hide, as far as I could, from the other students the 
fact that I had no money and nowhere to go. I 
made it known to a few people in the town of 
Hampton that I had this coat to sell, and, after a 



good deal of persuading, one coloured man promised 
to come to my room to look the coat over and 
consider the matter of buying it. This cheered my 
drooping spirits considerably. Early the next morn- 
ing my prospective customer appeared. After look- 
ing the garment over carefully, he asked me how 
much I wanted for it. I told him I thought it was 
worth three dollars. He seemed to agree with me 
as to price, but remarked in the most matter-of-fact 
way : " I tell you what I will do ; I will take the 
coat, and I will pay you five cents, cash down, and 
pay you the rest of the money just as soon as I can 
get it." It is not hard to imagine what my feelings 
were at the time. 

With this disappointment I gave up all hope of 
getting out of the town of Hampton for my vaca- 
tion work. I wanted very much to go where I 
might secure work that would at least pay me 
enough to purchase some much-needed clothing 
and other necessities. In a few days practically all 
the students and teachers had left for their homes, 
and this served to depress my spirits even more. 

After trying for several days in and near the 
town of Hampton, I finally secured work in a res- 
taurant at Fortress Monroe. The wages, however, 
were very little more than my board. At night, and 
between meals, I found considerable time for study 


and reading ; and in this direction I improved 
myself very much during the summer. 

When I left school at the end of my first year, I 
owed the institution sixteen dollars that I had not 
been able to work out. It was my greatest ambi- 
tion during the summer to save money enough with 
which to pay this debt. I felt that this was a debt 
of honour, and that I could hardly bring myself to 
the point of even trying to enter school again till it 
was paid. I economized in every way that I could 
think of — did my own washing, and went without 
necessary garments — but still I found my summer 
vacation ending and I did not have the sixteen 

One day, during the last week of my stay in the 
restaurant, I found under one of the tables a crisp, 
new ten-dollar bill. I could hardly contain myself, 
I was so happy. As it was not my place of busi- 
ness I felt it to be the proper thing to show the 
money to the proprietor. This I did. He seemed 
as glad as I was, but he coolly explained to me that, 
as it was his place of business, he had a right to 
keep the money, and he proceeded to do so. This, 
I confess, was another pretty hard blow to me. I 
will not say that I became discouraged, for as I 
now look back over my life I do not recall that 
I ever became discouraged over anvthing that I set 


out to accomplish. I have begun everything with 
the idea that I could succeed, and I never had 
much patience with the multitudes of people who 
are always ready to explain why one cannot succeed. 
I have always had a high regard for the man who 
could tell me how to succeed. I determined to face 
the situation just as it was. At the end of the week 
I went to the treasurer of the Hampton Institute, 
General J. F. B. Marshall, and told him frankly my 
condition. To my gratification he told me that I 
could reenter the institution, and that he would 
trust me to pay the debt when I could. During 
the second year I continued to work as a janitor. 

The education that I received at Hampton out 
of the text-books was but a small part of what I 
learned there. One of the things that impressed 
itself upon me deeply, the second year, was the 
unselfishness of the teachers. It was hard for me to 
understand how any individuals could bring them- 
selves to the point where they could be so happy in 
working for others. Before the end of the year, I 
think I began learning that those who are happiest 
are those who do the most for others. This lesson 
I have tried to carry with me ever since. 

I also learned a valuable lesson at Hampton by 
coming into contact with the best breeds of live 
stock and fowls. No student, I think, who has had 


the opportunity of doing this could go out into the 
world and content himself with the poorest grades. 

Perhaps the most valuable thing that I got out . 
of my second year was an understanding of the use 
and value of the Bible. Miss Nathalie Lord, one 
of the teachers, from Portland, Me., taught me how 
to use and love the Bible. Before this I had never 
cared a great deal about it, but now I learned to 
love to read the Bible, not only for the spiritual 
help which it gives, but on account of it as literature. 
The lessons taught me in this respect took such a 
hold upon me that at the present time, when I am 
at home, no matter how busy I am, I always make it 
a rule to read a chapter or a portion of a chapter in 
the morning, before beginning the work of the day. 

Whatever ability I may have as a public speaker I 
owe in a measure to Miss Lord. When she found 
out that I had some inclination in this direction, 
she gave me private lessons in the matter of breath- 
ing, emphasis, and articulation. Simply to be able to 
talk in public for the sake of talking has never had 
the least attraction for me. In fact, I consider that 
there is nothing so empty and unsatisfactory as 
mere abstract public speaking ; but from my early 
childhood I have had a desire to do something to 
make the world better, and then to be able to 
speak to the world about that thing. 


The debating societies at Hampton were a con- 
stant source of delight to me. These were held 
on Saturday evening ; and during my whole life at 
Hampton I do not recall that I missed a single 
meeting. I not only attended the weekly debating 
society, but was instrumental in organizing an addi- 
tional society. I noticed that between the time 
when supper was over and the time to begin even- 
ing study there were about twenty minutes which 
the young men usually spent in idle gossip. About 
twenty of us formed a society for the purpose of 
utilizing this time in debate or in practice in public 
speaking. Few persons ever derived more happi- 
ness or benefit from the use of twenty minutes of 
time than we did in this way. 

At the end of my second year at Hampton, by 
the help of some money sent me by my mother 
and brother John, supplemented by a small gift 
from one of the teachers at Hampton, I was enabled 
to return to my home in Maiden, West Virginia, 
to spend my vacation. When I reached home I 
found that the salt-furnaces were not running, and 
that the coal-mine was not being operated on ac- 
count of the miners being out on a " strike." This 
was something which, it seemed, usually occurred 
whenever the men got two or three months ahead 
in their savings. During the strike, of course, they 


spent all that they had saved, and would often 
return to work in debt at the same wages, or would 
move to another mine at considerable expense. In 
either case, my observations convinced me that the 
miners were worse ofF at the end of a strike. Be- 
fore the days of strikes in that section of the coun- 
try, I knew miners who had considerable money 
in the bank, but as soon as the professional labour 
agitators got control, the savings of even the more 
thrifty ones began disappearing. 

My mother and the other members of the family 
were, of course, much rejoiced to see me and to 
note the improvement that I had made during my 
two years' absence. The rejoicing on the part of 
all classes of the coloured people, and especially the 
older ones, over my return, was almost pathetic. 
I had to pay a visit to each family and take a meal 
with each, and at each place tell the story of my 
experiences at Hampton. In addition to this I 
had to speak before the church and Sunday-school, 
and at various other places. The thing that I was 
most in search of, though, work, I could not find. 
There was no work on account of the strike. I 
spent nearly the whole of the first month of my va- 
cation in an eflfort to find something to do by which 
I could earn money to pay my way back to Hampton 
and save a little money to use after reaching there. 


Toward the end of the first month, I went to a 
place a considerable distance from my home, to try 
to find employment. I did not succeed, and it was 
night before I got started on my return. When I 
had gotten within a mile or so of my home I was 
so completely tired out that I could not walk any 
farther, and I went into an old, abandoned house 
to spend the remainder of the night About three 
o'clock in the morning my brother John found me 
asleep in this house, and broke to me, as gently as 
he could, the sad news that our dear mother had 
died during the night. 

This seemed to me the saddest and blankest 
moment in my life. For several years my mother 
had not been in good health, but I had no idea, 
when I parted from her the previous day, that I 
should never see her alive again. Besides that, I 
had always had an intense desire to be with her 
when she did pass away. One of the chief ambi- 
tions which spurred me on at Hampton was that 
I might be able to get to be in a position in which 
I could better make my mother comfortable and 
happy. She had so often expressed the wish that 
•he might be permitted to live to see her children 
educated and started out into the world. 

In a very short time after the death of my 
mother our little home was in confusion. My 


sister Amanda, although she tried to do the best 
she could, was too young to know anything about 
keeping house, and my stepfather was not able to 
hire a housekeepero Sometimes we had food cooked 
for us, and sometimes we did not. I remember 
that more than once a can of tomatoes and some 
crackers constituted a meal. Our clothing went 
uncared for, and everything about our home was 
soon in a tumble-down condition. It seems to me 
that this was the most dismal period of my life. 

My good friend Mrs. RufFner, to whom I have 
already referred, always made me welcome at her 
home,and assisted me in many ways during this try- 
ing period. Before the fend of the vacation she gave 
me some work, and this, together with work in a 
coal-mine at some distance from my home, enabled 
me to earn a little money. 

At one time it looked as if I would have to give 
up the idea of returning to Hampton, but my heart 
was so set on returning that I determined not to give 
up going back without a struggle. I was very anx- 
ious to secure some clothes for the winter, but in 
this I was disappointed, except for a few garments 
which my brother John secured for me. Notwith- 
standing my need of money and clothing, I was very 
happy in the fact that I had secured enough money 
to pay my travelling expenses back to Hampton. 


Once there, I knew that I could make myself so 
useful as a janitor that I could in some way get 
through the school year. 

Three weeks before the time for the opening of 
the term at Hampton, I was pleasantly surprised to 
receive a letter from my good friend Miss Mary F. 
Mackie, the lady principal, asking me to return to 
Hampton two weeks before the opening of the 
school, in order that I might assist her in cleaning 
the buildings and getting things in order for the new 
school year. This was just the opportunity I wanted. 
It gave me a chance to secure a credit in the treas- 
urer's office. I started for Hampton at once. 

During these two weeks I was taught a lesson 
which I shall never foi^et. Miss Mackie was a 
member of one of the oldest and most cultured 
families of the North, and yet for two weeks she 
worked by my side cleaning windows, dusting rooms, 
putting beds in order, and what not. She felt that 
things would not be in condition for the opening of 
school unless every window-pane was perfectly clean, 
and she took the greatest satisfaction in helping to 
clean them herself. The work which I have de- 
scribed she did every year that I was at Hampton. 

It was hard for me at this time to understand how 
a woman of her education and social standing could 
take such delight in performing such service^ in order 


to assist in the elevation of an unfortunate race. 
Ever since then I have had no patience with any 
school for my race in the South which did not teach 
its students the dignity of labour. 

During my last year at Hampton every minute of 
my time that was not occupied with my duties as 
janitor was devoted to hard study. I was deter- 
mined, if possible, to make such a record in my 
class as would cause me to be placed on the " honour 
roll" of Commencement speakers. This I was 
successful in doing. It was June of 1875 when I 
finished the regular course of study at Hampton. 
The greatest benefits that I got out of my life at the 
Hampton Institute, perhaps, may be classified under 
two heads : — 

First was contact with a great man. General S. C. 
Armstrong, who, I repeat, was, in my opinion, the 
rarest, strongest, and most beautiful character that it 
has ever been my privilege to meet. 

Second, at Hampton, for the first time, I learned 
what education was expected to do for an individual. 
Before going there I had a good deal of the then 
rather prevalent idea among our people that to se- 
cure an education meant to have a good, easy time, 
free from all necessity for manual labour. At Hamp- 
ton I not only learned that it was not a disgrace to 
labour^ but learned to love labour^ not alone for its 


financial value, but for labour's own sake and for the 
independence and self-reliance which the ability to 
do something which the world wants done brings. 
At that institution I got my first taste of what it 
meant to live a life of unselfishness, my first knowl- 
edge of the fact that the happiest individuals are 
those who do the most to make others useful and 

- I was completely out of money when I graduated. 
In company with other Hampton students, I secured 
a place as a table waiter in a summer hotel in Con- 
necticut, and managed to borrow enough money with 
which to get there. I had not been in this hotel 
long before I found out that I knew practically noth- 
ing about waiting on a hotel table. The head 
waiter, however, supposed that I was an accomplished 
waiter. He soon gave me charge of a table at 
which there sat four or five wealthy and rather aris- 
tocratic people. My ignorance of how to wait upon 
them was so apparent that they scolded me in such 
a severe manner that I became frightened and left 
their table, leaving them sitting there without food. 
As a result of this I was reduced from the position 
of waiter to that of a dish-carrier. 

But I determined to learn the business of wait- 
ing, and did so within a few weeks and was restored 
to my former position. I have had the satisfaction 




of being a guest in this hotel several times since 
I was a waiter there. 

At the close of the hotel season I returned to my 
former home in Maiden, and was elected to teach the 
coloured school at that place. This was the be^n« 
ning of one of the happiest periods of my life. I now 
felt that I had the opportunity to help the people of 
my home town to a higher life. I felt from the first 
that mere book education was not all that the young 
people of that town needed. I began my work at 
dght o'clock in the morning, and, as a rule, it did 
not end until ten o'clock at night. In addition to 
the usual routine of teaching, I taught the pupils to 
comb their hair, and to keep their hands and faces 
clean, as well as their clothing. I gave special 
attention to teaching them the proper use of the 
tooth-brush and the hath. In all my teaching I have 
watched carefully the influence of the tooth-brush, 
and I am convinced that there are few single 
agencies of civilization that are more far-reaching. 

There were so many of the older boys and girls 
in the town, as well as men and women, who had 
to work in the daytime but still were craving an 
opportunity for some education, that I soon opened 
a night-school. From the first, this was crowded 
every night, being about as large as the school 
that I taught in the day. The efforts of some of 


the men and women, who in many cases were over 
fifty years of age, to learn, were in some cases very 

My day and night school work was not all that I 
undertook. I established a small reading-room and 
a debating society. On Sundays I taught two 
Sunday-schools, one in the town of Maiden in the 
afternoon, and the other in the morning at a place 
three miles distant from Maiden. In addition to 
this, I gave private lessons to several young men 
whom I was fitting to send to the Hampton Insti- 
tute. Without regard to pay and with little thought 
of it, I taught any one who wanted to learn any- 
thing that I could teach him. I was supremely 
happy in the opportunity of being able to assist 
somebody else. I did receive, however, a small 
salary from the public fund, for my work as a public- 
school teacher. 

During the time that I was a student at Hampton 
my older brother, John, not only assisted me all that 
he could, but worked all of the time in the coal-mines 
in order to support the family. He willingly neg- 
lected his own education that he might help me. 
It was my earnest wish to help him to prepare to 
enter Hampton, and to save money to assist him in 
his expenses there. Both of these objects I was 
successful in accomplishing. In three years my 


brother finished the course at Hampton, and he is 
now holding the important position of Superintend- 
ent of Industries at Tuskegee. When he returned 
from Hampton, we both combined our efforts and 
savings to send our adopted brother, James, through 
the Hampton Institute. This we succeeded in 
doing, and he is now the postmaster at the Tus- 
kegee Institute. The year 1877, which was my 
second year of teaching in Maiden, I spent very 
much as I did the first. 

It was while my home was at Maiden that what 
was known as the ^^Ku Klux Klan" was in the 
height of its activity. The " Ku Klux " were bands 
of men who had joined themselves together for the 
purpose of regulating the conduct of the coloured 
people, especially with the object of preventing the 
members of the race from exercising any influ- 
ence in politics. They corresponded somewhat to 
the "patrollers" of whom I used to hear a great 
deal during the days of slavery, when I was a small 
boy. The " patroUers " were bands of white men 
— usually young men — who were organized largely 
for the purpose of regulating the conduct of the 
slaves at night in such matters as preventing the 
slaves from going from one plantation to another 
without passes, and for preventing them from hold- 
ing any kind of meetings without permission and 


without the presence at these meetings of at least 
one white man. 

Like the " patroUers " the " Ku Klux " operated 
almost wholly at night. They were, however, more 
cruel than the " patroUers." Their objects, in the 
main, were to crush out the political aspirations of 
the Negroes, but they did not confine themselves 
to this, because schoolhouses as well as churches 
were burned by them, and many innocent persons 
were made to suffer. During this period hot a 
few coloured people lost their lives. 

As a young man, the acts of these lawless bands 
made a great impression upon me. I saw one open 
battle take place at Maiden between some of the 
coloured and white people. There must have been 
not far from a hundred persons engaged on each 
side; many on both sides were seriously injured, 
among them being General Lewis Ruffner, the hus- 
band of my friend Mrs. Viola Ruffner. General 
Ruffner tried to defend the coloured people, and for 
this he was knocked down and so seriously wounded 
that he never completely recovered. It seemed to 
me as I watched this struggle between members of 
the two races, that there was no hope for our people 
in this country. The " Ku Klux " period was, I 
think, the darkest part of the Reconstruction days. 

I have referred to this unpleasant part of the his- 


tory of the South simply for the purpose of calling 
attention to the great change that has taken place 
since the days of the " Ku Klux." To-day there 
are no such organizations in the South, and the fact 
that such ever existed is almost forgotten by both 
races. There are few places in the. South now where 
public sentiment would permit such organizations 
to exist. 



THE years from 1867 to 1878 I think may- 
be called the period of Reconstruction. 
This included the time that I spent as a 
student at Hampton and as a teacher in West 
Virginia. During the whole of the Reconstruction 
period two ideas were constantly agitating the minds 
of the coloured people, or, at least, the minds of a 
large part of the race. One of these was the craz€ 
for Greek and Latin learning, and the other was a 
desire to hold office. 

It could not have been expected that a people 
.who had spent generations in slavery, and before 
that generations in the darkest heathenism, could at 
first form any proper conception of what an educa- 
tion meant. In every part of the South, during the 
Reconstruction period, schools, both day and night, 
were filled to overflowing with people of all ages and 
conditions, some being as far along in age as sixty 
and seventy years. The ambition to secure an edu- 
cation was most praiseworthy and encouraging. The 


idea, however, was too prevalent that, as soon as one 
secured a little education, in some unexplainable way 
he would be free from most of the hardships of the 
world, and, at any rate, could live without manual 
labour. There was a further feeling that a knowledge, 
however little, of the Greek and Latin languages would 
make one a very superior human being, something 
bordering almost on the supernatural. I remember 
that the first coloured man whom I saw who knew 
something about foreign languages impressed me at 
that time as being a man of all others to be envied. 

Naturally, most of our people who received some 
little education became teachers or preachers. While 
among these two classes there were many capable, 
earnest, godly men and women, still a large propor- 
tion took up teaching or preaching as an easy way 
to make a living. Many became teachers who could 
do little more than write their names. I remember 
there came into our neighbourhood one of this class, 
who was in search of a school to teach, and the 
question arose while he was there as to the shape of 
the earth and how he would teach the children con- ^: 

cerning this subject. He explained his position in 
the matter by saying that he was prepared to teach ; 

that the earth was either flat or round, according to \ 

the preference of a majority of his patrons. 

The ministry was the profession that suflTered 


most — and still suffers, though there has been great 
improvement — on account of not only ignorant 
but in many cases immoral men who claimed that 
they were " called to preach." In the earlier days 
of freedom almost every coloured man who learned 
to read would receive " a call to preach " within a 
few days after he began reading. At my home in 
West Virginia the process of being called to the 
ministry was a very interesting one. Usually the 
"call" came when the individual was sitting in 
church. Without warning the one called would fall 
upon the floor as if struck by a bullet, and would lie 
there for hours, speechless and motionless. Then the 
news would spread all through the neighbourhood 
that this individual had received a " call." If he 
were inclined to resist the summons, he would fall 
or be made to fall a second or third time. In the 
end he always yielded to the call. While I wanted 
an education badly, I confess that in my youth I 
had a fear that when I had learned to read and 
write well I would receive one of these " calls " ; but, 
for some reason, my call never came. 

When we add the number of wholly ignorant men 
who preached or " exhorted ** to that of those who 
possessed something of an education, it can be seen 
at a glance that the supply of ministers was large. 
In fact, some time ago I knew a certain church that 


had a total membership of about two hundred, and 
eighteen of that number were ministers. But, I re- 
peat, in many communities in the South the character 
of the ministry is being improved, and I believe that 
within the next two or three decades a very large 
proportion of the unworthy ones will have disap- 
peared. The " calls " to preach, I am glad to say, 
are not nearly so numerous now as they were for- 
merly, and the calls to some industrial occupation are 
growing more numerous. The improvement that 
has taken place in the character of the teachers is 
even more marked than in the case of the ministers. 

During the whole of the Reconstruction period 
our people throughout the South looked to the Fed- 
eral Government for everything, very much as a 
child looks to its mother. This was not unnatural. 
The central government gave them freedom, and the 
whole Nation had been enriched for more than two 
centuries by the labour of the Negro. Even as a 
youth, and later in manhood, I had the feeling that 
it was cruelly wrong in the central government, at 
the beginning of our freedom, to fail to make some 
provision for the general education of our people in 
addition to what the states might do, so that the 
people would be the better prepared for the duties of 

It is easy to find fault, to remark what might have 


been done^ and perhaps^ after all, and under all the 
circumstances, those in charge of the conduct of 
affairs did the only thing that could be done at the 
time. Still, as I look back now over the entire 
period of our freedom, I cannot help feeling that it 
would have been wiser if some plan could have been 
put in operation which would have made the posses- 
sion of a certain amount of education or property, 
or both, a test for the exercise of the franchise, and 
a way provided by which this test should be made 
to apply honestly and squarely to both the white 
and black races. 

Though I was but little more than a youth dur- 
ing the period of Reconstruction, I had the feeling 
that mistakes were being made, and that things could 
not remain in the condition that they were in then 
very long. I felt that the Reconstruction policy, so 
far as it related to my race, was in a large measure 
on a false foundation, was artificial and forced. In 
many cases it seemed to me that the ignorance of 
my race was being used as a tool with which to help 
white men into office, and that there was an element 
in the North which wanted to punish the Southern 
white men by forcing the Negro into positions 
over the heads of the Southern whites. I felt that 
the Negro would be the one to suffer for this in the 
end. Besides, the general political agitation drew 


the attention of our people away from the more fun- 
damental matters of perfecting themselves in the 
. industries at their doors and in securing property. 

The temptations to enter political life were so al- 
luring that I came very near yielding to them at one 
time, but I was kept from doing so by the feeling 
that I would be helping in a more substantial way by 
assisting in the laying of the foundation of the race 
through a generous education of the hand, head, and 


heart. I saw coloured men who were members of the 
state legislatures, and county officers, who, in some 
cases, could not read or write, and whose morals 
were as weak as their education. Not long ago, 
when passing through the streets of a certain city in 
the South, I heard some brick-masons calling out, 
from the top of a two-story brick building on which 
they were working, for the " Governor '* to " hurry 
up and bring up some more bricks." Several times 
I heard the command, "Hurry up. Governor!" 
" Hurry up. Governor ! " My curiosity was aroused 
to such an extent that I made inquiry as to who the 
"Governor" was, and soon found that he was a 
coloured man who at one time had held the position 
of Lieutenant-Governor of his state. 

But not all the coloured people who were in office 
during Reconstruction were unworthy of their 
positions, by any means. Some of them, like the 


kte Senator B. K, Bruce, Governor Pinchback, and 
many others, were strong, upright, useful men. 
Neither were all the class designated as carpetbag- 
gers dishonourable men. Some of them, like ex- 
Governor Bullock, of Georgia, were men of high 
character and usefulness* 

Of course the coloured people, so largely without 
education, and wholly without experience in govern- 
ment, made tremendous mistakes, just as any peo- 
ple similarly situated would have done. Many of 
the Southern whites have a feeling that, if the 
Negro is permitted to exercise his political rights 
now to any degree, the mistakes of the Reconstruc- 
tion period will repeat themselves. I do not think 
this would be true, because the Negro is a much 
stronger and wiser man than he was thirty-five 
years ago, and he is fast learning the lesson that he 
cannot afford to act in a manner that will alienate 
his Southern white neighbours from him. More 
and more I am convinced that the final solution of 
the political end of our race problem will be for 
each state that finds it necessary to change the law 
bearing upon the franchise to make the law apply 
with absolute honesty, and without opportunity for 
double dealing or evasion, to both races alike. Any 
other course my daily observation in the South 
convinces me, will be unjust to the Negro, unjust 


to the white man, and unfair to the rest of the 
stated in the Union, and will be, like slavery, a sin 
that at some time we shall have to pay for» 

In the fall of 1878, after having taught school in 
Maiden for two years, and after I had succeeded in 
preparing several of the young men and women, 
besides my two brothers, to enter the Hampton 
Institute, I decided to spend some months in study 
at Washington, D.C, I remained there for eight 
months. I derived a great deal of benefit from 
the studies which I pursued, and I came into con- 
tact with some strong men and women. At the 
institution I attended there was no industrial train-^ 
ing given to the students, and I had an opportunity 
of comparing the influence of an institution with no 
industrial training with that of one like the Hamp- 
ton Institute, that emphasized the industries. At 
this school I found the students, in most cases, had 
more money, were better dressed, wore the latest 
style of all manner of clothing, and in some cases 
were more brilliant mentally. At Hampton it was 
a standing rule that, while the institution would be 
responsible for securing some one to pay the tuition 
for the students, the men and women themselves must 
provide for their own board, books, clothing, and 
room wholly by work, or partly by work and partly 
in cash. At the institution at which I now was^ I 


found that a large proportion of the students by 
some means had their personal expenses paid for 
them. At Hampton the student was constantly 
making the effort through the industries to help 
himself, and that very effort was of immense value 
in character-building. The students at the other 
school seemed to be less self-dependent. They 
seemed to give more attention to mere outward 
appearances. In a word, they did not appear to 
me to be beginning at the bottom, on a real, 
solid foundation, to the extent that they were at 
Hampton. They knew more about Latin and 
Greek when they left school, but they seemed to 
know less about life and its conditions as they 
would meet it at their homes. Having lived for 
a number of years in the midst of comfortable sur- 
roundings, they were not as much inclined as the 
Hampton students to go into the country districts 
of the South, where there was little of comfort, to 
take up work for our people, and they were more 
inclined to yield to the temptation to become hotel 
waiters and Pullman-car porters as their life-work. 

During the time I was a student in Washington 
the city was crowded with coloured people, many of 
whom had recently come from the South. A large 
proportion of these people had been drawn to 
Washington because they felt that they could lead 


a life of ease there. Others had secured minor 
government positions, and still another large class 
was there in the hope of securing Federal positions. 
A number of coloured men — some of them very 
strong and brilliant — were in the House of Rep- 
resentatives at that time, and one, the Hon. B. K. 
Bruce, was in the Senate. All this tended to make 
Washington an attractive place for members of the 
coloured race. Then, too, they knew that at all 
times they could have the protection of the law in 
the District of Columbia. The public schools in 
Washington for coloured people were better then 
than they were elsewhere. I took great interest in 
studying the life of our people there closely at that 
time. I found that while among them there was a 
large element of substantial, worthy citizens, there 
was also a superficiality about the life of a large 
class that greatly alarmed me. I saw young coloured 
men who were not earning more than four dollars a 
week spend two dollars or more for a buggy on 
Sunday to ride up and down Pennsylvania Avenue 
in, in order that they might try to convince the 
world that they were worth thousands. I saw other 
young men who received seventy-five or one hun- 
dred dollars per month from the Government, who 
were in debt at the end of every month. I saw 
men who but a few months previous were members 


of Congress, theh without employment and in pOv- 
erty. Among a large class there seemed to be a 
dependence upon the Government for every con- 
ceivable thing. The members of this class had 
little ambition to create a position for themselves, 
but Wanted the Federal officials to create one for 
them. How itiany times I wished then, and have 
often wished since, that by some power of magic I 
might remove the great bulk of these people into 
the country districts and plant them upon the soil, 
upoh the solid and never deceptive foundation of 
Mother Nature, where all nations and races that 
have ever succeeded have gotten their start, — ' a start 
that at first may be slow and toilsome, but one that 
nevertheless is real. 

In Washington I siw girls whose mothers were 
earning their living by laundrying. These girls 
were taught by their mothers, in rather a crude 
way it is true, the industry of laundrying. Later, 
these girls entered the public schools and remained 
there perhaps six or eight years. When the public- 
school course was finally finished, they wanted more 
costly dresses, more costly hats and shoed. In a 
word, while their wants had been increased, their 
ability to supply their wants had not been increased 
in the same degree. On the other hand, their six 
or eight years of book education had weaned them 


away from the occupation of their mothers. The 
result of this was in too many cases that the girls 
went to the bad. I often thought how much wiser 
it would have been to give these girls the same 
amount of mental training — and I favour any kind 
of training, whether in the languages or mathe- 
matics, that gives strength and culture to the mind 
-^but at the same time to give them the mq^t 
thorough training in the latest and best methods 
of laundrying and other kindred occupations. 



DURING the year that I spent in Washing- 
ton, and for some little time before this, 
there had been considerable agitation in 
the state of West Virginia over the question of 
moving the capital of the state from Wheeling to 
some other central point. As a result of this, the 
Legislature designated three cities to be voted upon 
by the citizens of the state as the permanent seat 
of government. Among these cities was Charles- 
ton, only fiv© miles from Maiden, my home. At 
the close of my school year in Washington I was 
very pleasantly surprised to receive, from a com- 
mittee of white people in Charleston, an invitation 
to canvass the state in the interests of that city. 
This invitation I accepted, and spent nearly thre>e 
months in speaking in various parts of the state. 
Charleston was successful in winning the prize, and 
is now the permanent seat of government. 

The reputation that I made as a speaker during 
this campaign induced a number of persons to 



make an earnest effort to get me to enter political 
life, but I refused, still believing that I could find 
other service which would prove of more perma- 
nent value to my race. Even then I had a strong 
feeling that what our people most needed was to 
get a foundation in education, industry, and prop- 
erty, and for this I felt that they could better afford 
to strive than for political preferment. As for my 
individual self, it appeared to me to be reasonably 
certain that I could succeed in political life, but I 
had a feeling that it would be a rather selfish kind 
of success — individual success at the cost of failing 
to do my duty in assisting in laying a foundation 
for the masses. 

At this period in the progress of our race a very 
large proportion of the young men who went to 
school or to college did so with the expressed deter- 
mination to prepare themselves to be great lawyers, 
or Congressmen, and many of the women planned 
to become music teachers ; but I had a reasonably 
fixed idea, even at that early period in my life, that 
there was need for something to be done to prepare 
the way for successful lawyers. Congressmen, and 
music teachers. 

I felt that the conditions were a good deal like 
those of an old coloured man, during the days of 
slavery, who wanted to le^rn how to play on the 


guitar. In his desire to take guitar lessons he 
applied to one of his young masters to teach him ; 
but the young man, not having much faith in the 
ability of the slave to master the guitar at his age, 
sought to discourage him by telling him : " Uncle 
Jake, I will give you guitar lessons ; but, Jake, I 
will have to charge you three dollars for the first 
lesson, two dollars for the second lesson, and one 
dollar for the third lesson. But I will charge you 
only twenty-five cents for the last lesson/' 

Uncle Jake answered : " All right, boss, I hires 
you on dem terms. But, boss ! I wants yer to be 
sure an* give me dat las* lesson first.*^ 

Soon after my work in connection with the re- 
moval of the capital was finished, I received an 
invitation which gave me great joy and which at 
the same tin^e was a very pleasant surprise. This 
was a letter from General Armstrong, inviting me 
to return to Hampton at the next Commencement 
to deliver what was called the ^^ post-graduate ad- 
dress.** This was an honour which I had not 
dreamed of receiving. With much care I prepared 
the best address that I was capable of. I chose 
for my subject " The Force That Wins.'* 

As I returned to Hampton for the purpose of 
delivering this address, I went over much of the 
game ground — now, however, covered entirely by 


railroad — that I had traversed nearly six years be- 
fore, when I first sought entrance into Hampton 
Institute as a student. Now I was able to ride 
the whole distance in the train. I was constantly 
contrasting this with my first journey to Hampton. 
I think I may say, without seeming egotism, that 
it is seldom that five years have wrought such a 
change in the life and aspirations of an individual. 
At Hampton I received a warm welcome from 
teachers and students. I found that during my 
absence from Hampton the institute each year had 
been getting closer to the real needs and conditions 
of our people ; that the industrial teaching, as well 
as that of the academic department, had greatly 
improved. The plan of the school was not 
modelled after that of any other institution then 
in existence, but every improvement was made 
under the magnificent leadership of General Arm- 
strong solely with the view of meeting and helping 
the needs of our people as they presented them- 
selves at the time. Too often, it seems to me, in 
missionary and educational work among unde- 
veloped races, people yield to the temptation of 
doing that which was done a hundred years before, 
or is being done in other communities a thousand 
miles away. The temptation often is to run each 
individual through a certain educational mould, re« 


gardless of the condition of the subject or the end 
to be accomplished. This was not so at Hampton 

The address which I delivered on Commence- 
ment Day seems to have pleased every one, and 
many kind and encouraging words were spoken 
to me regarding it. Soon after my return to my 
home in West Virginia, where I had planned to 
continue teaching, I was again surprised to receive 
a letter from General Armstrong, asking me to 
return to Hampton partly as a teacher and partly 
to pursue some supplementary studies. This was 
in the summer of 1879. Soon after I began my 
first ' teaching in West Virginia I had picked out 
four of the brightest and most promising of my 
pupils, in addition to my two brothers, to whom 
I have already referred, and had given them special 
attention, with the view of having them go to 
Hampton. They had gone there, and in each case 
the teachers had found them so well prepared that 
they entered advanced classes. This fact, it seems, 
led to my being called back to Hampton as a 
teacher. One of the young men that I sent to 
Hampton in this way is now Dr. Samuel E. Court- 
ney, a successful physician in Boston, and a mem- 
ber of the School Board of that city. 

About this time the experiment was being tried 


for the first time, by General Armstrong, of educat- 
ing Indians at Hampton. Few people then had 
any confidence in the ability of the Indians to 
receive education and to profit by it. General 
Armstrong was anxious to try the experiment sys- 
tematically on a large scale. He secured from the 
reservations in the Western states over one hun- 
dred wild and for the most part perfectly ignorant 
Indians, the greater proportion of whom were young 
men. The special work which the General desired 
me to do was to be a sort of " house father " to the 
Indian young men — that is, I was to live in the 
building with them and have the charge of their 
discipline, clothing, rooms, and so on. This was 
a very tempting offer, but I had become so much 
absorbed in my work in West Virginia that I 
dreaded to give it up. However, I tore myself 
away from it. I did not know how to refuse to 
perform any service that General Armstrong de- 
sired of me. 

On going to Hampton, I took up my residence 
in a building with about seventy-five Indian youths. 
I was the only person in the building who was not 
a member of their race. At first I had a good deal 
of doubt about my ability to succeed. I knew that 
the average Indian felt himself above the white 
man, and, of course, he felt himself far above the 


Negro, largely on account of the fact of the Negro 
having submitte4 to slavery— ^a thing which the 
Indian would never do. The Indians, in the 
Indian Territory, owned a large number of slaves 
during the days of slavery. Aside from this, there 
was a general feeling that the attempt to educate 
and civilize the red men at Hampton would be a 
failure. All this made me proceed very cautiously, 
for I felt keenly the great re3ponsibility. But I 
was determined to succeed. It was not long before 
I had the complete confidence of the Indians, and 
not only this, but I think I am safe in saying that 
I had their love and respect. I found that they 
were about like any other human beings ; that they 
responded to kind treatment and resented ill-treat-^ 
ment. They were continually planning to do 
something that would add to my happiness and 
comfort. The things that they disliked most, I 
think, were to have their long hair cut, to give up 
wearing their blankets, and to cease smoking ; but 
no white American ever thinks that any other race 
is wholly civilized until he wears the white man's 
clothes, eats the white man's food, speaks the white 
man's language, and professes the white man's 

When the difficulty of learning the English lan- 
guage was subtracted, I found that in the matter 


of learning trades and in mastering academic studies 
there was little difference between the coloured and 
Indian students. It was a constant delight to me 
to note the interest which the coloured students took 
in trying to help the Indians in every way possible. 
There were a few of the coloured students who felt 
that the Indians ought not to be admitted to 
Hampton, but these were in the minority. When- 
ever they were asked to do so, the Negro students 
gladly took the Indians as room-mates, in order 
that they might teach them to speak English and 
to acquire civilized habits. 

I have often wondered if there was a white 
institution in this country whose students would 
have welcomed the incoming of more than a hun- 
dred companions of another race in the cordial way 
that these black students at Hampton welcomed 
the red ones. How often I have wanted to say to 
white students that they lift themselves up in pro- 
portion as they help to lift others, and the more 
unfortunate the race, and the lower in the scale of 
civilization, the more does one raise one's self by 
giving the assistance. 

This reminds me of a conversation which I once 
had with the Hon. Frederick Douglass. At one 
time Mr. Douglass was travelling in the state of 
Pennsylvania, and was forced, on account of his 


colour, to ride in the baggage-<:ar, in spite of the 
fact that he had paid the same price for his passage 
that the other passengers had paid. When some 
of the white passengers went into the baggage-car 
to console Mr. Douglass, and one of them said to 
him : " I am sorry, Mr. Douglass, that you have 
been degraded in this manner," Mr. Douglass 
straightened himself up on the box upon which he 
was sitting, and replied: "They cannot degrade 
Frederick Douglass. The soul that is within me no 
man can degrade. I am not the one that is being 
degraded on account of this treatment, but those 
who are inflicting it upon me." 

In one part of our country, where the law de- 
mands the separation of the races on the railroad 
trains, I saw at one time a rather amusing instance 
which showed how difficult it sometimes is to know 
where the black begins and the white ends. 

There was a man who was well known in his 
community as a Negro, but who was so white that 
even an expert would have hard work to classify 
him as a black man. This man was riding in 
the part of the train set aside for the coloured pas- 
sengers. When the train conductor reached him, 
he showed at once that he was perplexed. If the 
man was a Negro, the conductor did not want to 
send him into the white people's coach; at the 


same time, If he was a white man, the conductor 
did not want to insult him by asking him if he was 
a Negro. The official looked him over carefully, 
examining his hair, eyes, nose, and hands, but 
still seemed puzzled. Finally, to solve the diffi- 
culty, he stooped over and peeped at the man's 
feet. When I saw the conductor examining the 
feet of the man in question, I said to myself, "That 
will settle it ; " and so it did, for the trainman 
promptly decided that the passenger was a Negro, 
and let him remain where he was. I congratulated 
myself that my race was fortunate in not losing one 
of its members. 

My experience has been that the time to test a 
true gentleman is to observe him when he is in 
contact with individuals of a race that is less fortu- 
nate than his own. This is illustrated in no better 
way than by observing the conduct of the old- 
school type of Southern gentleman when he is in 
contact with his former slaves or their descendants. 

An example of what I mean is shown in a story 
told of George Washington, who, meeting a coloured 
man in the road once, who politely lifted his hat, 
lifted his own in return. Some of his white friends 
who saw the incident criticised Washington for his 
action. In reply to their criticism George Wash- 
ington said : " Do you suppose that I am going to 


permit a poor, ignorant, coloured man to be more 
polite than I am ? " 

While I was in charge of the Indian boys at 
Hampton, I had one or two experiences which 
illustrate the curious workings of caste in America. 
One of the Indian boys was taken ill, and it became 
my duty to take him to Washington, deliver him 
over to the Secretary of the Interior, and get a 
receipt for him, in order that he might be returned 
to his Western reservation. At that time I was 
rather ignorant of the ways of the world. During 
my journey to Washington, on a steamboat, when 
the bell rang for dinner, I was careful to wait and 
not enter the dining room until after the greater 
part of the passengers had finished their meal« 
Then, with my charge, I went to the dining saloon« 
The man in charge politely informed me that the 
Indian could be served, but that I could not. I 
never could understand how he knew just where to 
draw the colour line, since the Indian and I were 
of about the same complexion. The steward, how- 
ever, seemed to be an expert in this matter. I had 
been directed by the authorities at Hampton to stop 
at a certain hotel in Washington with my charge, 
but when I went to this hotel the clerk stated 
that he would be glad to receive the Indiali into the 
house, but said that he could not accommodate me. 


An illustration of something of this same feeling 
came under my observation afterward. I happened 
to find myself in a town in which so much excite- 
ment and indignation were being expressed that it 
seemed likely for a time that there would be a 
lynching. The occasion of the trouble was that 
a dark-skinned man had stopped at the local hotel. 
Investigation, however, developed the fact that this 
individual was a citizen of Morocco, and that while 
travelling in this country he spoke the English 
language. As soon as it was learned that he was 
not an American Negro, all the signs of indignation 
disappeared. The man who was the innocent cause 
of the excitement, though, found it prudent after 
that not to speak English. 

At the end of my first year with the Indians 
there came another opening for me at Hampton, 
which, as I look back over my life now, seems to 
have come providentially, to help to prepare me for 
my work at Tuskegee later. General Armstrong 
had found out that there was quite a number of 
young coloured men and women who were intensely 
in earnest in wishing to get an education, but who 
were prevented from entering Hampton Institute 
because they were too poor to be able to pay any 
pOTtion of the cost of their board, or even to supply 
themselves with books. He conceived the idea of 


starting a night-school in connection with the Insti- 
tute, into which a limited number of the most 
promising of these young men and women would 
be received, on condition that they were to work 
for ten hours during the day, and attend school for 
two hours at night. They were to be paid some- 
thing above the cost of their board for their work. 
The greater part of their earnings was to be reserved 
in the school's treasury as a fiind to be drawn on to 
pay their board when they had become students in 
the day-school, after they had spent one or two 
years in the night-school. In this way they would 
obtain a start in their books and a knowledge of 
some trade or industry, in addition to the other far- 
reaching benefits of the institution. 

General Armstrong asked me to take charge of 
the night-school, and I did so. At the beginning 
of this school there were about twelve strong, earnest 
men and women who entered the class. During the 
day the greater part of the young men worked in 
the school's sawmill, and the young wpmen worked 
in the laundry. The work was not easy in either 
place, but in all my teaching I never taught pupils 
who gave me such genuine satisfaction as these did. 
They were good students, and mastered their work 
thoroughly. They were so much in earnest that 
only the ringing of the retiring-bell would make 


them stop studying, and often they would urge me 
to continue the lessons after the usual hour for 
going to bed had come. 

These students showed so much earnestness, 
both in their hard work during the day, as well 
as in their application to their studies at night, that 
I gave them the name of " The Plucky Class " 
— a name which soon grew popular and spread 
throughout the institution. After a student had 
been in the night-school long enough to prove what 
was in him, I gave him a printed certificate which 
read something like this : — 

" This is to certify that James Smith is a member 
of The Plucky Class of the Hampton Institute, and 
is in good and regular standing." 

The students prized these certificates highly, and 
they added greatly to the popularity of the night- 
school. Within a few weeks this department had 
grown to such an extent that there were about 
twenty-five students in attendance. I have followed 
the course of many of these twenty-five men and 
women ever since then, and they are now holding 
important and useful positions in nearly every part 
of the South. The night-school at Hampton, which 
started with only twelve students, now numbers be- 
tween three and four hundred, and is one of the per- 
manent and most important features of the institution. 



DURING the time that I had charge of the 
Indians and the night-school at Hampton, 
I pursued some studies myself, under the 
direction of the instructors there. One of these in- 
structors was the Rev. Dr. H. B. Frissell, the pres- 
ent Principal of the Hampton Institute, General 
Armstrong's successor. 

In May, 1881, near the close of my first year in 
teaching the night-school, in a way that I had not 
dared expect, the opportunity opened for me to be- 
gin my life-work. One night in the chapel, after 
the usual chapel exercises were over. General Arm- 
strong referred to the fact that he had received a 
letter from some gentlemen in Alabama asking him 
to recommend some one to take charge of what was 
to be a normal school for the coloured people in the 
little town of Tuskegee in that state. These gen- 
tlemen seemed to take it for granted that no coloured 
man suitable for the position could be secured, and 

they were expecting the General to recommend a 



white imin for the place. The next day General 
Armstrong sent for me to come to his office, and, 
much to my surprise, asked me if I thought I could 
fill the position in Alabama. I told him that I 
would be willing to try. Accordingly, he wrote to 
the people who had applied to him for the informa- 
tion, that he did not know of any white man to sug- 
gest, but if they would be willing to take a coloured 
man, he had one whom he could recommend. In 
this letter he gave them my name. 

Several days passed before anything more was 
heard about the matter^ Some time afterward, one 
Sunday evening during the chapel exercises, a mes- 
senger came in and handed the General a telegram. 
At the end of the exercises he read the telegram to 
the school. In substance, these were its words : 
" Booker T. Washington will suit us. Send him 
at once." 

There was a great deal of joy expressed among 
the students and teachers, and I received very hearty 
congratulations. I began to get ready at once to go 
to Tuskegee. I went by way of my old home in 
Wtjst Virginia, where I remained for several days, after 
which I proceeded to Tuskegee. I found Tuske- 
gee to be a town of about two thousand inhabitants, 
nearly one-half of whom were coloured. It was in 
what was known as the Black Belt of the South. In 


the county in which Tuskegee is situated the coloured 
people outnumbered the whites by about three to 
one. In some of the adjoining and near-by coun- 
ties the proportion was not far from six coloured 
persons to one white. 

I have often been asked to define the term "Black 
Belt." So far as I can learn, the term was first used 
to designate a part of the country which was distin- 
guished by the colour of the soil. The part of the 
country possessing this thick, dark, and naturally 
rich soil was, of course, the part of the South where 
the slaves were most profitable, and consequently 
they were taken there in the largest numbers. Later, 
and especially since the war, the term seems to be 
used wholly in a political sense — that is, to desig- 
nate the counties where the black people outnumber 
the white. 

Before going to Tuskegee I had expected to find 
there a building and all the necessary apparatus ready 
for me to begin teaching. To my disappointment, 
I found nothing of the kind. I did find, though, 
that which no costly building and apparatus can sup- 
ply, — hundreds of hungry, earnest souls who wanted 
to secure knowledge. 

Tuskegee seemed an ideal place for the school. 
It was in the midst of the great bulk of the Negro 
population, and was rather secluded, being five miles 


from the main line of railroad, with which it was 
connected by a short line. During the days of slav- 
ery, and since, the town had been a centre for the 
education of the white people. This was an added 
advantage, for the reason that I found the white peo- 
ple possessing a degree of culture and education that 
is not surpassed by many localities. While the col- 
oured people were ignorant, they had not, as a rule, 
degraded and weakened their bodies by vices such 
as are common to the lower class of people in the 
large cities. In general, I found the relations be- 
tween the two races pleasant. For example, the 
largest, and I think at that time the only hardware 
store in the town was owned and operated jointly by 
a coloured man and a white man. This copartner- 
ship continued until the death of the white partner. 
I found that about a year previous to my going 
to Tuskegee some of the coloured people who had 
heard something of the work of education being 
done at Hampton had applied to the state Legisla- 
ture, through their representatives, for a small appro- 
priation to be used in starting a normal school in 
Tuskegee. This request the Legislature had com- 
plied with to the extent of granting an annual appro- 
priation of two thousand dollars. I soon learned, 
however, that this money could be used only for the 
payment of the salaries of the instructors, and that 


there was no provision for securing land, buildings, 
or apparatus. The task before me did not seem a 
very encouraging one. It seemed much like mak- 
ing bricks without straw. The coloured people were 
overjoyed, and were constantly offering their services 
in any way in which they could be of assistance in 
getting the school started. 

My first task was to find a place in which to open 
the school. After looking the town over with some 
care, the most suitable place that could be secured 
seemed to be a rather dilapidated shanty near the 
coloured Methodist church, together with the church 
itself as a sort of assembly-room. Both the church 
and the shanty were in about as bad condition as 
was possible. I recall that during the first months 
of school that I taught in this building it was in 
such poor repair that, whenever it rained, one of the 
older students would very kindly leave his lessons 
and hold an umbrella over me while I heard the 
recitations of the others. I remember, also, that 
on more than one occasion my landlady held an 
umbrella over me while I ate breakfast. 

At the time I went to Alabama the coloured people 
were taking considerable interest in politics, and 
they were very anxious that I should become one of 
them politically, in every respect. They seemed to 
have a little distrust of strangers in this regard. I 


li first schngl buildings. The one on the righl is still in use. 


recall that one man^ who seemed to have been desig- 
nated by the others to look after my political des- 
tiny^ came to me on several occasions and said, with 
a good deal of earnestness : " We wants you to be 
sure to vote jes' like we votes. We can't read de 
newspapers very much, but we knows how to vote, 
an' we wants you to vote jes' like we votes." He 
added : " We watches de white man, and we keeps 
watching de white man till we finds out which way 
de white man's gwine to vote ; an' when we finds out 
which way de white man's gwine to vote, den we 
votes 'xactly de other way. Den we knows we'« 

I am glad to add, however, that at the present 
time the disposition to vote against the white man 
merely because he is white is largely disappearing, 
and the race is learning to vote from principle, for 
what the voter considers to be for the best interests 
of both races. 

I reached Tuskegee, as I have said, early in June, 
1 88 1. The first month I spent in finding accom- 
modations for the school, and in travelling through 
Alabama, examining into the actual life of the peo- 
ple, especially in the country districts, and in getting 
the school advertised among the class of people that 
I wanted to have attend it. The most of my trav- 
elling was done over the country roads, with a mule 



and a cart or a mule and a buggy wagon for con- 
veyance. I ate and slept with the people, in their 
little cabins. I saw their farms, their schools, their 
churches. Since, in the case of the most of these 
visits, there had been no notice given in advance 
that a stranger was expected, I had the advantage of 
seeing the real, everyday life of the people. 

In the plantation districts I found that, as a rule, 
the whole family slept in one room, and that in addi- 
tion to the immediate family there sometimes were 
relatives, or others not related to the family, who 
slept in the same room. On more than one occa- 
sion I went outside the house to get ready for bed, 
or to wait until the family had gone to bed. They 
usually contrived some kind of a place for me to 
sleep, either on the floor or in a special part of an- 
other's bed. Rarely was there any place provided 
in the cabin where one could bathe even the face 
and hands, but usually some provision was made 
for this outside the house, in the yard. 

The common diet of the people was fat pork and 
corn bread. At times I have eaten in cabins where 
they had only corn bread and "black-eye peas" 
cooked in plain water. The people seemed to have 
no other idea than to live on this fat meat and corn 
bread, — the meat, and the meal of which the bread 
was made, having been bought at a high price at 9 


store in town, notwithstanding the fact that the land 
all about the cabin homes could easily have been 
made to produce nearly every kind of garden vege- 
table that is raised anywhere in the country. Their 
one object seemed to be to plant nothing but cotton ; 
and in many cases cotton was planted up to the very 
door of the cabin. 

In these cabin homes I often found sewing- 
machines which had been bought, or were being 
bought, on instalments, frequently at a cost of as 
much as sixty dollars, or showy clocks for which the 
occupants of the cabins had paid twelve or fourteen 
dolkrs. I remember that on one occasion when I 
went into one of these cabins for dinner, when I sat 
down to the table for a meal with the four members 
of the family, I noticed that, while there were five 
of us at the table, there was but one fork for the 
five of us to use. Naturally there was an awkward 
pause on my part. In the opposite corner of that 
same cabin was an organ for which the people told 
me they were paying sixty dollars in monthly in- 
stalments. One fork, and a sixty-dollar organ ! 

In most cases the sewing-machine was not used, 
the clocks were so worthless that they did not keep 
correct time — and if they had, in nine cases out of 
ten there would have been no one in the family who 
could have told the time of day — while the organ, 


of course, was rarely used for want of a person who 
could play upon it. 

In the case to which I have referred, where the 
family sat down to the table for the meal at which I 
was their guest, I could see plainly that this was an 
awkward and unusual proceeding, and was done in 
fny honour. In most cases, when the family got up 
in the morning, for example, the wife would put a 
piece of meat in a frying-pan and put a lump of 
dough in a " skillet," as they called it. These uten- 
sils would be placed on the fire, and in ten or fifteen 
minutes breakfast would be ready. Frequently the 
husband would take his bread and meat in his hand 
and start for the field, eating as he walked. The 
mother would sit down in a corner and eat her 
breakfast, perhaps from a plate and perhaps directly 
from the " skillet " or frying-pan, while the children 
would eat their portion of the bread and meat while 
running about the yard. At certain seasons of the 
year, when meat was scarce, it was rarely that the 
children who were not old enough or strong enough 
to work in the fields would have the luxury of meat. 

The breakfast over, and with practically no atten- 
tion given to the house, the whole family would, as 
a general thing, proceed to the cotton-field. Every 
child that was large enough to carry a hoe was put 
to work, and the baby — for usually there was at 



least one baby — would be laid down at the end of 
the cotton row, so that its mother could give it a 
certain amount of attention when she had finished 
chopping her row. The noon meal and the supper 
were taken in much the same way as the breakfast. 

All the days of the family would be spent after 
much this same routine, except Saturday and Sun- 
day. On Saturday the whole family would spend 
at least half a day, and often a whole day, in town. 
The idea in going to town was, I suppose, to do 
shopping, but all the shopping that the whole family 
had motley for could have been attended to in ten 
minutes by one person. Still, the whole family 
remained in town for most of the day, spending the 
greater part of the time in standing on the streets, 
the women, too often, sitting about somewhere 
smoking or dipping snufF. Sunday was usually 
spent in going to some big meeting. With few 
exceptions, I found that the crops were mortgaged 
in the counties where I went, and that the most of 
the coloured farmers were in debt. The state had 
not been able to build schoolhouses in the country 
districts, and, as a rule, the schools were taught in 
churches or in log cabins. More than once, while 
on my journeys, I found that there was no provision 
made in the house used for school purposes for 
heating the building during the winter, and con- 


sequently a fire had to be built in the yard, and 
teacher and pupils passed in and out of the house 
as they got cold or warm. With few exceptions, I 
found the teachers in these country schools to be 
miserably poor in preparation for their work, and 
poor in moral character. The schools were in ses- 
sion from three to five months. There was practi- 
cally no apparatus in the schoolhouses, except that 
occasionally there was a rough blackboard. I recall 
that one day I went into a schoolhouse — or rather 
into an abandoned log cabin that was being used as 
a schoolhouse — and found five pupils who were 
studying a lesson from one book. Two of these, 
on the front seat, were using the book between 
them ; behind these were two others peeping over 
the shoulders of the first two, and behind the four 
was a fifth little fellow who was peeping over the 
shoulders of all four. 

What I have said concerning the character of the 
schoolhouses and teachers will also apply quite accu- 
rately as a description of the church buildings and 
the ministers. 

I met some very interesting characters during my 
travels. As illustrating the peculiar mental processes 
of the country people, I remember that I asked one 
coloured man, who was about sixty years old, to tell 
me something of his history. He said that he had 



been born in Virginia, and sold into Alabama in 
1845. ^ asked him how many were sold at the 
same time. He said, "There were five of us; 
myself and brother and three mules." 

In giving all these descriptions of what I saw 
during my month of travel in the country around 
Tuskegee, I wish my readers to keep in mind the 
fact that there were many encouraging exceptions 
to the conditions which I have described. I have 
stated in such plain words what I saw, mainly for 
the reason that later I want to emphasizti the encour- 
aging changes that have taken place in the commu- 
nity, not wholly by the work of the Tuskegee school, 
but bv that of other institutions as well. 



I CONFESS that what I saw during my month 
of travel and investigation left me with a very 
heavy heart. The work to be done in order to 
lift these people up seemed almost beyond accom- 
plishing. I was only one person, and it seemed to 
me that the little effort which I could put forth 
could go such a short distance toward bringing 
about results. I wondered if I could accomplish 
anything, and if it were worth while for me to try. 

Of one thing I felt more strongly convinced than 
ever, after spending this month in seeing the actual 
life of the coloured people, and that was that, in 
order to lift them up, something must be done 
more than merely to imitate New England educa- 
tion as it then existed. I saw more clearly than 
ever the wisdom of the system which General 
Armstrong had inaugurated at Hampton. To take 
the children of such people as I had been among 
for a month, and each day give them a few hours 
of mere book education, I felt would be almost a 
waste of time. 


After consultation with the citizens of Tuskegee, 
I set July 4, 1881, as the day for the opening of 
the school in the little shanty and church which 
had been secured for its accommodation. The 
white people, as well as the coloured, were greatly 
interested in the starting of the new school, and 
the opening day was looked forward to with 
much earnest discussion. There were not a few 
white people in the vicinity of Tuskegee who 
looked with some disfavour upon the project. 
They questioned its value to the coloured people, 
and had a fear that it might result in bringing 
about trouble between the races. Some had the 
feeling that in proportion as the Negro received 
education, in the same proportion would his value 
decrease as an economic factor in the state. 
These people feared the result of education would 
be that the Negroes would leave the farms, 
and that it would be difficult to secure them for 
domestic service. 

The white people who questioned the wisdom 
of starting this new school had in their minds 
pictures of what was called an educated Negro, with 
a high hat, imitation gold eye-glasses, a showy walk- 
ing-stick, kid gloves, fancy boots, and what not — 
in a word, a man who was determined to live by 
his wits. It was difficult for these people to see 


how education would produce any other kind of 
a coloured man. 

In the midst of all the difficulties which I en- 
countered in getting the little school started, and 
since then through a period of nineteen years, there 
are two men among all the many friends of the 
school in Tuskegee upon whom I have depended 
constantly for advice and guidance ; and the success 
of the undertaking is largely due to these men, 
from whom I have never sought anything in vain. 
I mention them simply as types. One is a white man 
and an ex-slaveholder, Mr. George W. Campbell ; 
the other is a black man and an ex-slave, Mr. Lewis 
Adams. These were the men who wrote to General 
Armstrong for a teacher. 

Mr. Campbell is a merchant and banker, and had 
had little experience in dealing with matters pertain- 
ing to education. Mr. Adams was a mechanic, 
and had learned the trades of shoemaking, harness- 
making, and tinsmithing during the days of slavery. 
He had never been to school a day in his life, but 
in some way he had learned to read and write while 
a slave. From the first, these two men saw clearly 
what my plan of education was, sympathized with 
me, and supported me in every effort. In the days 
which were darkest financially for the school, Mr. 
Campbell was never appealed to when he was not 


willing to extend all the aid in his power. I do not 
know two men, one an ex-slaveholder, one an ex- 
slave, whose advice and judgment I would feel 
more like following in everything which concerns 
the life and development of the school at Tuskegee 
than those of these two men. 

I have always felt that Mr. Adams, in a large 
degree, derived his unusual power of mind from 
the training given his hands in the process of 
mastering well three trades during the days of 
slavery. If one goes to-day into any Southern 
town, and asks for the leading and most reliable 
coloured man in the community, I believe that in 
five cases out of ten he will be directed to a Negro 
who learned a trade during the days of slavery. 

On the morning that the school opened, thirty 
students reported for admission. I was the only 
teacher. The students were about equally divided 
between the sexes. Most of them lived in Macon 
County, the county in which Tuskegee is situated, 
and of which it is the county-seat. A great many 
more students wanted to enter the school, but it had 
been decided to receive only those who were above 
fifteen years of age, and who had previously received 
some education. The greater part of the thirty 
were public-school teachers, and some of them were 
nearly forty years of age. With the teachers came 


some of their former pupils, and when they were 
examined it was amusing to note that in several cases 
the pupil entered a higher class than did his former 
teacher. It was also interesting to note how many 
big books some of them had studied, and how 
many high-sounding subjects some of them claimed 
to have mastered. The bigger the book and the 
longer the name of the subject, the prouder they 
felt of their accomplishment. Some had studied 
Latin, and one or two Greek. This they thought 
entitled them to special distinction. 

In fact, one of the saddest things I saw during 
the month of travel which I have described was a 
young man, who had attended some high school, 
sitting down in a one-room cabin, with grease on 
his clothing, filth all around him, and weeds in the 
yard and garden, engaged in studying a French 

The students who came first seemed to be fond 
of memorizing long and complicated "rules" in 
grammar and mathematics, but had little thought 
or knowledge of applying these rules to the every- 
day affairs of their life. One subject which they 
liked to talk about, and tell me that they had 
mastered, in arithmetic, was "banking and dis- 
count," but I soon found out that neither they nor 
almost any one in the neighbourhood in which they 


lived had ever had a bank account. In registering 
the names of the students, I found that almost every 
one of them had one or more middle initials. 
When I asked what the " J " stood for, in the 
name of John J. Jones, it was explained to me that 
this was a part of his "entitles." Most of the 
students wanted to get an education because they 
thought it would enable them to earn more money 
as school-teachers. 

Notwithstanding what I have said about them 
in these respects, I have never seen a more earnest 
and willing company of young men and women than 
these students were. They were all willing to learn 
the right thing as soon as it was shown them what 
was right. I was determined to start them off on 
a solid and thorough foundation, so far as their 
books were concerned. I soon learned that most 
of them had the merest smattering of the high- 
sounding things that they had studied. While they 
could locate the Desert of Sahara or the capital 
of China on an artificial globe, I found out that 
the girls could not locate the proper places for the 
knives and forks on an actual dinner-table, or the 
places on which the bread and meat should be set. 

I had to summon a good deal of courage to take 
a student who had been studying cube root and 
"banking and discount," and explain to him tha^t 


the wisest thing for him to do first was thoroughly 
to master the multiplication table. 

The number of pupils increased each week, until 
by the end of the first month there were nearly fifty. 
Many of them, however, said that, as they could re- 
main only for two or three months, they wanted to 
enter a high class and get a diploma the first year if 

At the end of the first six weeks a new and rare 
face entered the school as a co-teacher. This was 
Miss Olivia A. Davidson, who later became my 
wife. Miss Davidson was born in Ohio, and re 
ceived her preparatory education in the public schools 
of that state. When little more than a girl, she 
heard of the need of teachers in the South. She 
went to the state of Mississippi and began teaching 
there. Later she taught in the city of Memphis. 
While teaching in Mississippi, one of her pupils be- 
came ill with smallpox. Every one in the com- 
munity was so frightened that no one would nurse 
the boy. Miss Davidson closed her school and re- 
mained by the bedside of the boy night and day until 
he recovered. While she was at her Ohio home on 
her vacation, the worst epidemic of yellow fever broke 
out in Memphis, Tenn., that perhaps has ever oc- 
curred in the South. When she heard of this, she at 
pnce telegraphed the Mayor of Memphis, offering 


her services as a yellow-fever nurse, although she 
had never had the disease. 

Miss Davidson's experience in the South showed 
her that the people needed something more than 
mere book-learning. She heard of the Hampton 
system of education, and decided that this was what 
she wanted in order to prepare herself for better work 
in the South. The attention of Mrs. Mary Hem- 
enway, of Boston, was attracted to her rare ability. 
Through Mrs. Hemenway's kindness and generosity. 
Miss Davidson, after graduating at Hampton, re- 
ceived an opportunity to complete a two years' 
course of training at the Massachusetts State Nor- 
mal School at Framingham. 

Before she went to Framingham, some one sug- 
gested to Miss Davidson that, since she was so very 
light in colour, she might find it more comfortable 
not to be known as a coloured woman in this school 
in Massachusetts. She at once replied that under 
no circumstances and for no considerations would 
she consent to deceive any one in regard to her 
racial identity. 

Soon after her graduation from the Framingham 
institution. Miss Davidson came to Tuskegee, bring- 
ing into the school many valuable and fresh ideas as 
to the best methods of teaching, as well as a rare 
moral character and a life of unselfishness that I 


think has seldom been equalled. No single individ- 
ual did more toward laying the foundations of the 
Tuskegee Institute so as to insure the successful work 
that has been done there than Olivia A. Davidson. 

Miss Davidson and I began consulting as to the 
future of the school from the first. The students 
were making progress in learning books and in de- 
veloping their minds; but it became apparent at 
once that, if we were to make any permanent impres- 
sion upon those who had come to us for training, 
we must do something besides teach them mere 
books. The students had come from homes where 
they had had no opportunities for lessons which 
would teach them how to care for their bodies. 
With few exceptions, the homes in Tuskegee in 
which the students boarded were but little improve- 
ment upon those from which they had come. We 
wanted to teach the students how to bathe ; how to 
care for their teeth and clothing. We wanted to teach 
them what to eat, and how to eat it properly, and 
how to care for their rooms. Aside from this, 
we wanted to give them such a practical knowledge 
of some one industry, together with the spirit of in- 
dustry, thrift, and economy, that they would be sure 
of knowing how to make a living after they had left 
us. We wanted to teach them to study actual things 
instead of mere books alone. 


We found that the most of our students came • 
from the country districts, where agriculture in some 
form or other was the main dependence of the 
people. We learned that about eighty-five per cent 
of the coloured people in the Gulf states depended 
upon agriculture for their living. Since this was 
true, we wanted to be careful not to educate our 
students out of sympathy with agricultural life, so 
that they would be attracted from the country to the 
cities, and yield to the temptation of trying to live 
by their wits. We wanted to give them such an 
education as would fit a large proportion of them 
to be teachers, and at the same time cause them to 
return to the plantation districts and show the 
people there how to put new energy and new ideas 
into farming, as well as into the intellectual and 
moral and religious life of the people. 

All these ideas and needs crowded themselves 
upon us with a seriousness that seemed well-nigh 
overwhelming. What were we to do ? We had 
only the little old shanty and the abandoned church 
which the good coloured people of the town of 
Tuskegee had kindly loaned us for the accommoda- 
tion of the classes. The number of students was 
increasing daily. The more we saw of them, and 
the more we travelled through the country districts, 
the more we saw that our eflForts were reaching, to 


only a partial degree, the actual needs of the people 
whom we wanted to lift up through the medium of 
the students whom we should educate and send out 
as leaders. 

The more we talked with the students, who were 
then coming to us from several parts of the state, 
the more we found that the chief ambition among 
a large proportion of them was to get an education 
so that they would not have to work any longer 
with their hands. 

This is illustrated by a story told of a coloured 
man in Alabama, who, one hot day in July, while 
he was at work in a cotton-field, suddenly stopped, 
and, looking toward the skies, said : " O Lawd, de 
cotton am so grassy, de work am so hard, and the 
sun am so hot dat I b'lieve dis darky am called 
to preach ! " 

About three months after the opening of the 
school, and at the time when we were in the great- 
est anxiety about our work, there came into the 
market for sale an old and abandoned plantation 
which was situated about a mile from the town of 
Tuskegee. The mansion house — or " big house," 
as it would have been called — which had been 
occupied by the owners during slavery, had been 
burned. After making a careful examination of this 


place, it seemed to be just the location that we wanted 
in order to make our work effective and permanent. 

But how were we to get it ? The price asked for 
it was very little — only five hundred dollars — but 
we had no money, and we were strangers in the 
town and had no credit. The owner of the land 
agreed to let us occupy the place if we could make a 
payment of two hundred and fifty dollars down, with 
the understanding that the remaining two hundred and 
fifty dollars must be paid within a year. Although 
five hundred dollars was cheap for the land, it was a 
large sum when one did not have any part of it. 

In the midst of the difficulty I summoned a great 
deal of courage and wrote to my friend General 
J. F. B. Marshall, the Treasurer of the Hampton 
Institute, putting the situation before him and be- 
seeching him to lend me the two hundred and fifty 
dollars on my own personal responsibility. Within 
a few days a reply came to the eflfect that he had 
no authority to lend me money belonging to the 
Hampton Institute, but that he would gladly lend 
me the amount needed from his own personal funds. 

I confess that the securing of this money in this 
way was a great surprise to me, as well as a source 
of gratification. Up to that time I never had had 
in my possession so much money as one hundred 
dollars at a time, and the loan which I had asked 


General Marshall for seemed a tremendously large 
sum to me. The fact of my being responsible for 
the repaying of such a large amount of money 
weighed very heavily upon me. 

I lost no time in getting ready to move the 
school on to the new farm. At the time we oc- 
cupied the place there were standing upon it a 
cabin, formerly used as the dining room, an old 
kitchen, a stable, and an old hen-house. Within 
a few weeks we had all of these structures in use. 
The stable was repaired and used as a recitation- 
room, and very presently the hen-house was utilized 
for the same purpose. 

I recall that one morning, when I told an old 
coloured man who lived near, and who sometimes 
helped me, that our school had grown so large that 
it would be necessary for us to use the hen-house 
for school purposes, and that I wanted him to help 
me give it a thorough cleaning out the next day, he 
replied, in the most earnest manner : " What you 
mean, boss ? You sholy ain't gwine clean out de 
hen-house in de day-time ? " 

Nearly all the work of getting the new location 
ready for school purposes was done by the students 
after school was over in the afternoon. As soon as 
we got the cabins in condition to be used, I deter- 
mined to clear up some land so that we could plant 


a crop. When I explained my plan to the young 
men, I noticed that they did not seem to take to it 
very kindly. It was hard for them to see the con- 
nection between clearing land and an education. 
Besides, many of them had been school-teachers, 
and they questioned whether or not clearing land 
would be in keeping with their dignity. In order 
to relieve them from any embarrassment, each after- 
noon after school I took my axe and led the way to 
the woods. When they saw that I was not afraid 
or ashamed to work, they began to assist with more 
enthusiasm. We kept at the work each afternoon, 
until we had cleared about twenty acres and had 
planted a crop. 

In the meantime Miss Davidson was devising 
plans to repay the loan. Her first effort was made 
by holding festivals, or "suppers." She made a 
personal canvass among the white and coloured 
families in the town of Tuskegee, and got them to 
agree to give something, like a cake, a chicken, 
bread, or pies, that could be sold at the festival. 
Of course the coloured people were glad to give any- 
thing that they could spare, but I want to add that 
Miss Davidson did not apply to a single white 
family, so far as I now remember, that failed to 
donate something; and in many ways the white 
families showed their interest in the school. 


Several of these festivals were held, and quite a 
little sum of money was raised. A canvass was 
also made among the people of both races for direct 
gifts of money, and most of those applied to gave 
small sums. It was often pathetic to note the gifts 
of the older coloured people, most of whom had 
spent their best days in slavery. Sometimes they 
would give five cents, sometimes twenty-five cents. 
Sometimes the contribution was a quilt, or a quan- 
tity of sugarcane. I recall one old coloured woman, 
who was about seventy years of age, who came to 
see me when we were raising money to pay for the 
farm. She hobbled into the room where I was, 
leaning on a cane. She was clad in rags ; but they 
were clean. She said : " Mr. Washington, God 
knows I spent de bes' days of my life in slavery. 
God knows Fs ignorant an' poor ; but," she added, 
" I knows what you an' Miss Davidson is tryin' to 
do. I knows you is tryin' to make better men an* 
better women for de coloured race. I ain't got no 
money, but I wants you to take dese six eggs, what 
I's been savin' up, an' I wants you to put dese six 
eggs into de eddication of dese boys an' gals." 

Since the work at Tuskegee started, it has been 
my privilege to receive many gifts for the benefiit 
of the institution, but never any, I think, that 
touched me so deeply as this one. 



THE coming of Christmas, that first year 
of our residence in Alabama, gave us an 
opportunity to get a farther insight into 
the real life of the people. The first thing that 
reminded us that Christmas had arrived was the 
" foreday " visits of scores of children rapping at 
our doors, asking for " Chris'mus gifts ! Chris'mus 
gifts ! '* Between the hours of two o'clock and five 
o'clock in the morning I presume that we must 
have had a half-hundred such calls. This custom 
prevails throughout this portion of the South 

During the days of slavery it was a custom quite 
generally observed throughout all the Southern 
states to give the coloured people a week of holiday 
at Christmas, or to allow the holiday to continue as 
long as the " yule log " lasted. The male members 
of the race, and often the female members, were 
expected to get drunk. We found that for a whole 
week the coloured people in and around Tuskegee 



dropped work the day before Christmas, and that 
it was difficult to get any one to perform any ser- 
vice from the time they stopped work until after 
the New Year. Persons who at other times did 
not use strong drink thought it quite the proper 
thing to indulge in it rather freely during the 
Christmas week. There was a widespread hilarity, 
and a free use of guns, pistols, and gunpowder 
generally. The sacredness of the season seemed to 
have been almost wholly lost sight of. 

During this first Christmas vacation I went some 
distance from the town to visit the people on one 
of the large plantations. In their poverty and 
ignorance it was pathetic to see their attempts to 
get joy out of the season that in most parts of the 
country is so sacred and so dear to the heart. In 
one cabin I noticed that all that the five children 
had to remind them of the coming of Christ was a 
single bunch of firecrackers, which they had divided 
among them. In another cabin, where there were 
at least a half-dozen persons, they had only ten 
cents' worth of ginger-cakes, which had been bought 
in the store the day before. In another family 
they had only a few pieces ,of sugarcane. In still 
another cabin I found nothing but a new jug of 
cheap, mean whiskey, which the husband and wife 
were making free use of, notwithstanding the fact 


thu the husband wm one of the local ministers. 
In a few instances I found that the people had 
gotten hold of some bright-^coloured cards that had 
been designed for advertising purposes, and were 
making the most of those. In other homes some 
member of the family had bought a new pistol. In 
the majority of cases there was nothing to be seen 
in the cabin to remind one of the coming of the 
Saviour, except that the people had ceased work in 
the fields and were louhging about their homes. 
At night, during Christmas week, they usually had 
what they called a ^^ frolic," in some cabin on the 
plantation. This -meant a kind of rough dance, 
where there was likely to be a good deal of whiskey 
used, and where there might be some shooting or 
cutting with razors. 

While I was making this Christmas visit I met 
an old coloured man who was one of the numerous 
local preachers, who tried to convince me, from the 
experience Adam had in the Garden of Eden, that 
God had cursed all labour, and that, therefore, it was 
a sin for any man to work. For that reason this 
man sought to do as little work as possible. He 
seemed at that time to be supremely happy, because 
he was living, as he expressed it, through one week 
that was free from sin. 

In the school we made a special effort to teach 


our students the meaning of Christmas, and to give 
them lessons in its proper observance. In this we 
have been successful to a degree that makes me 
feel safe in saying that the season now has a new 
meaning, not only through all that immediate region, 
but, in a measure, wherever our graduates have 

At the present time one of the most satisfactory 
features of the Christmas and Thanksgiving seasons 
at Tuskegee is the unselfish and beautiful way in 
which our graduates and students spend their time 
in administering to the comfort and happiness of 
others, especially the unfortunate. Not long ago 
some of our young men spent a holiday in rebuild- 
ing a cabin for a helpless coloured woman who is 
about seventy-five years old. At another time I re- 
member that I made it known in chapel, one night, 
that a very poor student was suffering from cold, be- 
cause he needed a coat. The next morning two coats 
were sent to my office for him. 

I have referred to the disposition on the part of 
the white people in the town of Tuskegee and 
vicinity to help the school. From the first, I 
resolved to make the school a real part of the com- 
munity in which it was located. I was determined 
that no one should have the feeling that it was a 
foreign institution, dropped down in the midst of 


the people, for which they had no responsibility 
and in which they had no interest. I noticed that 
the very fact that they had been asked to contribute 
toward the purchase of the land made them begin 
to feel as if it was going to be their school, to a 
large degree. I noted that just in proportion as 
we made the white people feel that the institution 
was a part of the life of the community, and that, 
while we wanted to make friends in Boston, for 
example, we also wanted to make white friends in 
Tuskegee, and that we wanted to make the school 
of real service to all the people, their attitude toward 
the school became favourable. 

Perhaps I might add right here, what I hope to 
demonstrate later, that, so far as I know, the Tuske- 
gee school at the present time has no warmer and 
more enthusiastic friends anywhere than it has 
among the white citizens of Tuskegee and through- 
out the state of Alabama and the entire South. 
From the first, I have advised our people in the 
South to make friends in every straightforward, 
manly way with their next-door neighbour, whether 
he be a black man or a white man. I have also ad- 
vised them, where no principle is at stake, to con- 
sult the interests of their local communities, and to 
advise with their friends in regard to their voting. 

For several months the work of securing the 


money with which to pay for the farm went on with* 
out ceasing. At the end of three months enough 
was secured to repay the loan of two hundred and 
fifty dollars to General Marshall, and within two 
months more we had secured the entire five hun- 
dred dollars and had received a deed of the one hun- 
dred acres of land. This gave us a great deal of 
satisfaction. It was not only a source of satisfaction 
to secure a permanent location for the school, but 
it was equally satisfactory to know that the greater 
part of the money with which it was paid for had 
been gotten from the white and coloured people in 
the town of Tuskegee. The most of this money 
was obtained by holding festivals and concerts, and 
from small individual donations. 

Our next eflFbrt was in the direction of increasing 
the cultivation of the land, so as to secure some 
return from it, and at the same time give the stu- 
dents training in agriculture. All the industries at 
Tuskegee have been started in natural and logical 
order, growing out of the needs of a community 
settlement. We began with farming, because we 
wanted something to eat. 

Many of the students, also, were able to remain 
in school but a few weeks at a time, because they 
had so little money with which to pay their board* 
Thus another object which made it desirable to get 



Sin industrial system started was in order to make 
it available as a means of helping the students to 
earn money enough so that they might be able to 
remain in school during the nine months* session 
of the school yean 

The first animal that the school came into pos*^ 
session of was an old blind horse given us by one 
of the white citizens of Tuskcgec. Perhaps I may 
add here that at the present time the school owns 
over two hundred horses, colts, mules, cows, calves, 
dud oxen, and about seven hundred hogs and pigs, 
as well as a large number of sheep and goats. 

The school was constantly growing in numbers, 
so much so that, after we had got the farm paid for, 
the cultivation of the land begun, and the old cabins 
which we had found on the place somewhat repaired, 
we turned our attention toward providing a large, 
substantial building. After having given a good 
deal of thought to the subject, we finally had the 
plans drawn for a building that was estimated to 
cost about six thousand dollars. This seemed to us 
a tremendous sum, but we knew that the school must 
go backward or forward, and that our work would 
mean little unless we could get hold of the students 
in their home life. 

One incident which occurred about this time gave 
me a great deal of satisfaction as well as surprise. 


When it became known in the town that we were 
discussing the plans for a new, large building, a 
Southern white man who was operating a sawmill 
not far from Tuskegee came to me and said that he 
would gladly put all the lumber necessary to erect 
the building on the grounds, with no other guarantee 
for payment than my word that it would be paid 
for when we secured some money. I told the man 
frankly that at the time we did not have in our 
hands one dollar of the money needed. Notwith- 
standing this, he insisted on being allowed to put 
the lumber on the grounds. After we had secured 
some portion of the money we permitted him to do 

Miss Davidson again began the work of securing 
in various ways small contributions for the new 
building from the white and coloured people in and 
near Tuskegee. I think I never saw a community 
of people so happy over anything as were the col- 
oured people over the prospect of this new building. 
One day, when we were holding a meeting to secure 
funds for its erection, an old, ante-bellum coloured 
man came a distance of twelve miles and brought in 
his ox-cart a large hog. When the meeting was in 
progress, he rose in the midst of the company and 
said that he had no money which he could give, but 
that he had raised two fine hogs, and that he had 


brought one of them as a contribution toward the 
expenses of the building. He closed his announce- 
ment by saying : " Any nigger that's got any love 
for his race, or any respect for himself, will bring a 
hog to the next meeting.'* Quite a number of men 
in the community also volunteered to give several 
days* work, each, toward the erection of the build- 

After we had secured all the help that we could 
in Tuskegee, Miss Davidson decided to go North 
for the purpose of securing additional funds. For 
weeks she visited individuals and spoke in churches 
and before Sunday schools and other organizations. 
She found this work quite trying, and often embar- 
rassing. The school was not known, but she was 
not long in winning her way into the confidence of 
the best people in the North. 

The first gift from any Northern person was 
received from a New York lady whom Miss David- 
son met on the boat that was bringing her North. 
They fell into a conversation, and the Northern 
lady became so' much interested in the effort being 
made at Tuskegee that before they parted Miss 
Davidson was handed a check for fifty dollars. For 
some time before our marriage, and also after it. 
Miss Davidson kept up the work of securing money 
in the North and in the South by interesting people 



by personal visits and through correspondence. At 
the same time she kept in close touch with the 
work at Tuskegee, as lady principal and classroom 
teacher. In addition to this, she worked among the 
older people in and near Tuskegee, and taught a 
Sunday school class in the town. She was never 
very strong, but never seemed happy unless she was 
giving all of her strength to the cause which she 
loved. Often, at night, after spending the day in 
going from door to door trying to interest persons 
in the work at Tuskegee, she would be so exhausted 
that she could not undress herself. A lady upon 
whom she called, in Boston, afterward told me that 
at one time when Miss Davidson called to see her 
and sent up her card the lady was detained a little 
before she could see Miss Davidson, and when she 
entered the parlour she found Miss Davidson so 
exhausted that she had fallen asleep. 

While putting up our first building, which was 
named Porter Hall, after Mr. A. H. Porter, of 
Brooklyn, N.Y., who gave a generous sum toward 
its erection, the need for money became acute. I 
had given one of our creditors a promise that upon 
a certain day he should be paid four hundred dol- 
lars. On the morning of that day we did not have 
a dollar. The mail arrived at the school at ten 
o'clock, and in this mail there was a check sent by 


Miss Davidson for exactly four hundred dollars. I 
could relate many instances of almost the same char- 
acter. This four hundred dollars was given by two 
ladies in Boston. Two years later, when the work 
at Tuskegee had grown considerably, and when we 
were in the midst of a season when we were so 
much in need of money that the future looked 
doubtful and gloomy, the same two Boston ladies 
sent us six thousand dollars. Words cannot de- 
scribe our surprise, or the encouragement that the 
gift brought to us. Perhaps I might add here that 
for fourteen years these same friends have sent us 
six thousand dollars each year. 

As soon as the plans were drawn for the new 
building, the students began digging out the earth 
where the foundations were to be laid, working after 
the regular classes were over. They had not fully 
outgrown the idea that it was hardly the proper 
thing for them to use their hands, since they had 
come there, as one of them expressed it, " to be 
educated, and not to work." Gradually, though, I 
noted with satisfaction that a sentiment in &vour 
of work was gaining ground. After a few weeks of 
hard work the foundations were ready, and a day 
was appointed for the laying of the corner-stone. 

When it is considered that the laying of this 
corner*stone took place in the heart of the South, 



in the " Black Belt," in the centre of that part of 
our country that was most devoted to slavery ; that 
at that time slavery had been abolished only about 
sixteen years ; that only sixteen years before that 
no Negro could be taught from books without the 
teacher receiving the condemnation of the law or of 
public sentiment — when all this is considered, the 
scene that was witnessed on that spring day at 
Tuskegee was a remarkable one. I believe there 
are few places in the world where it could have 
taken place. 

The principal address was delivered by the Hon. 
Waddy Thompson, the Superintendent of Educa- 
tion for the county. About the corner-stone were 
gathered the teachers, the students, their parents and 
friends, the county officials — who were white — and 
all the leading white men in that vicinity, together 
with many of the black men and women whom 
these same white people but a few years before had 
held a title to as property. The members of both 
races were anxious to exercise the privilege of plac- 
ing under the corner-stone some memento. 
• Before the building was completed we passed 
through some very trying seasons. More than 
once our hearts were made to bleed, as it were, be- 
cause bills were falling due that we did not have the 
money to meet. Perhaps no one who has not gone 


through the experience, month after month, of try- 
ing to erect buildings and provide equipment for a 
school when no one knew where the money was to 
come from, can properly appreciate the difficulties 
under which we laboured. During the first years at 
Tuskegee I recall that night after night I would roll 
and toss on my bed, without sleep, because of the 
anxiety and uncertainty which we were in regarding 
money. I knew that, in a large degree, we were 
trying an experiment — that of testing whether or 
not it was possible for Negroes to build up and con- 
trol the affairs of a large educational institution. I 
knew that if we failed it would injure the whole 
race. I knew that the presumption was against us. 
I knew that in the case of white people beginning 
such an enterprise it would be taken for granted that 
they were going to succeed, but in our case I felt 
that people would be surprised if we succeeded. 
All this made a burden which pressed down on 
us, sometimes, it seemed, at the rate of a thousand 
pounds to the square inch. 

In all our difficulties and anxieties, however, I 
never went to a white or a black person in the town 
of Tuskegee for any assistance that was in their 
power to render, ^thout being helped according to 
their means. More than a dozen times, when bills 
figuring up into the hundreds of dollars were falling 


due, I applied to the white men of Tuskegee for 
smaU loans, often borrowing smaU amounts from as 
many as a half-dozen persons, to meet our obliga- 
dons* One thing I was determined to do from the 
first, and that was to keep the credit of the school 
high ; and this, I think I can say without boasting, 
we have done all through these years. 

I shall always remember a bit of advice given me 
by Mn George W. Campbell, the white man to 
whom I have referred as the one who induced Gen-* 
eral Armstrong to send me to Tuskegee. Soon 
after I entered upon the work Mr. Campbell said 
to me, in his fatherly way: ** Washington, always 
remember that credit is capital." 

At one time when we were in the greatest distress 
for money that we ever experienced, I placed the 
situation frankly before General Armstrong. With- 
out hesitation he gave me his personal check for all 
the money which he had saved for his own use. 
This was not the only time that General Armstrong 
helped Tuskegee in this way. I do not think I 
have ever made this fact public before. 

During the summer of 1 88a, at the end of the 
first year's work of the school, I was married to 
Miss Fannie N. Smith, of Maiden, W. Va. We 
began keeping house in Tuskegee early in the 
fall. This made a home for our teachers, who now 


had been increased to four in number. My wife 
was also a graduate of the Hampton Institute. 
After earnest and constant work in the interests of 
the school, together with her housekeeping duties, 
my wife passed away in May, 1884. One child, 
Portia M. Washington, was born during our 

From the first, my wife most earnestly devoted 
her thoughts and time to the work of the school, 
and was completely one with me in every interest 
and ambition. She passed away, however, before 
she had an opportunity of seeing what the school 
was designed to be. 




FROM the very beginning, at Tuskc^ee, I was 
determined to have the students do not only 
the agricultural and domestic work, but to 
have them erect their own buildings. My plan was 
to have them, while performing this service, taught 
the latest and best methods of labour, so that the 
school would not only get the benefit of their efibrts, 
but the students themselves would be taught to see 
not only utility in labour, but beauty and dignity ; 
would be taught, in fact, how to lift labour up from 
mere drudgery and toil, and would learn to love 
work for its own sake. My plan was not to teach 
them to work in the old way, but to show them how 
to make the forces of nature — air, water, steam, 
electricity, horse-power — assist them in their labour. 
At first many advised against the experiment of 
having the buildings erected by the labour of the stu- 
dents, but I was determined to stick to it I told 
those who doubted the wisdom of the plan that I 
knew that our first buildings would not be so com- 






fortable or so complete in their finish as buildings 
erected by the experienced hands of outside work- 
men, but that in the teaching of civilization, self- 
help, and self-reliance, the erection of the buildings 
by the students themselves would more than com- 
pensate for any lack of comfort or fine finish. 

I further told those who doubted the wisdom of 
this plan, that the majority of our students came to 
us in poverty, from the cabins of the cotton, sugar, 
and rice plantations of the South, and that while I 
knew it would please the students very much to 
place them at once in finely constructed buildings, I 
felt that it would be following out a more natural 
process of development to teach them how to con- 
struct their own buildings. Mistakes I knew would 
be made, but these mistakes would teach us valuable 
lessons for the future. 

During the now nineteen years* existence of the 
Tuskegee school, the plan of having the buildings 
erected by student labour has been adhered to. In 
this time forty buildings, counting small and large, 
have been built, and all except four are almost 
wholly the product of student labour. As an addi- 
tional result, hundreds of men are now scattered 
throughout the South who received their knowl- 
edge of mechanics while being taught how to erect 
these buildings. Skill and knowledge are now 


handed down from one ftet of students to another 
in this way, until at the present time a building of 
any description or si2e can be constructed wholly by 
our instructors and students, from the drawing of 
the plans to the putting in of the electric fixtures, 
without going off the grounds for a single work<- 

Not a few times, when a new student has been 
led into the temptation of rharring the looks of 
some building by leadpencil marks or by the cuts 
of a jack-knife, I have heard an old student remind 
him : " Don't do that. That is our building. I 
helped put it up/' 

In the early days of the school I think my most 
trying experience was in the matter of brickmaking. 
As soon as we got the farm work reasonably well 
started, we directed our next efforts toward the 
industry of making bricks. We needed these for 
use in connection with the erection of our own 
buildings ; but there was also another reason for es^ 
tablishing this industry. There was no brickyard 
in the town, and in addition to our own needs there 
was a demand for bricks in the general market 

I had always sympathized with the "Children 
of Israel," in their task of " making bricks without 
straw," but ours was the task of making bricks with 
no money and no experience* 


In the first place, the work was hard and dirty, 
and it was difficult to get the students to help. 
When it came to brickmaking, their distaste for 
manual labour in connection with book education 
became especially manifest. It was not a pleasant 
task for one to stand in the mud-pit for hours, with 
the mud up to his knees. More than one man 
became disgusted and left the school. 

Wc tried several locations before we opened up 
a pit that furnished brick clay. I had always 
supposed that brickmaking was very simple, but 
I soon found out by bitter experience that it re- 
quired special skill and knowledge, particularly in 
the burning of the bricks. After a good deal of 
effort we moulded about twenty-five thousand bricks, 
and put them into a kiln to be burned. This kiln 
turned out to be a failure, because it was not prop- 
erly constructed or properly burned. We began 
at once, however, on a second kiln. This, for 
some reason, also proved a failure. The failure 
of this kiln made it still more diflicult to get the 
students to take any part in the work. Several 
of the teachers, however, who had been trained in 
the industries at Hampton, volunteered their ser- 
vices, and in some way we succeeded in getting a 
third kiln ready for burning. The burning of a 
kiln required about a week. Toward the latter 


part of the week, when it seemed as if we were 
going to have a good many thousand bricks in a 
few hours, in the middle of the night the kiln fell. 
For the third time we had failed. 

The failure of this last kiln left me without a 
single dollar with which to make another experi- 
ment. Most of the teachers advised the abandon- 
ing of the effort to make bricks. In the midst 
of my troubles I thought of a watch which had 
come into my possession years before. I took this 
watch to the city of Montgomery, which was not 
far distant, and placed it in a pawn-shop. I secured 
cash upon it to the amount of fifteen dollars, with 
which to renew the brickmaking experiment. I 
returned to Tuskegee, and, with the help of the 
fifteen dollars, rallied our rather demoralized and 
discouraged forces and began a fourth attempt to 
make bricks. This time, I am glad to say, we 
were successful. Before I got hold of any money, 
the time-limit on my watch had expired, and I have 
never seen it since ; but I have never regretted the 
loss of it. 

Brickmaking has now become such an important 
industry at the school that last season our students 
manufactured twelve hundred thousand of first-class 
bricks, of a quality suitable to be sold in any mar- 
ket. Aside from this, scores of young men have 


mastered the brickmaking trade — both the making 
of bricks by hand and by machinery — and are 
now engaged in this industry in many parts of the 

The making of these bricks taught me an im- 
portant lesson in regard to the relations of the two 
races in the South. Many white people who had 
had no contact with the school, and perhaps no 
sympathy with it, came to us to buy bricks because 
they found out that ours were good bricks. They 
discovered that we were supplying a real want in 
the community. The making of these bricks caused 
many of the white residents of the neighbourhood 
to begin to feel that the education of the Negro was 
not making him worthless, but that in educating 
our students we were adding something to the 
wealth and comfort of the community. As the 
people of the neighbourhood came to us to buy 
bricks, we got acquainted with them ; they traded 
with us and we with them. Our business interests 
became intermingled. We had something which 
they wanted ; they had something which we wanted. 
This, in a large measure, helped to lay the founda- 
tion for the pleasant relations that have continued 
to exist between us and the white people in that 
section, and which now extend throughout the 


Wherever one of our brickmakers has gone in 
the South, we find that he has something to contrib- 
ute to the well-being of the community into which 
he has gone; something that has made the com- 
munity feel that, in a degree, it is indebted to him, 
and perhaps, to a certain extent, dependent upon 
him. In this way pleasant relations between the 
races have been stimulated. 

My experience is that there is something in 
human nature which always makes an individual 
recognize and reward merit, no matter under what 
colour of skin merit is found. I have found, too, 
that it is the visible, the tangible, that goes a long 
ways In softening prejudices. The actual sight of a 
first-class house that a Negro has built is ten times 
more potent than pages of discussion about a house 
that he ought to build, or perhaps could build. 

The same principle of industrial education has 
been carried out in the building of our own wagons, 
carts, and buggies, from the first. We now own 
and use on our farm and about the school dozens 
of these vehicles, and every one of them has been 
built by the hands of the students. Aside from 
this, we help supply the local market with the^e 
vehicles. The supplying of them to the people in 
the community has had the same effect as the sup- 
plying of bricks, and the man who learns at Tuske- 


gee to build and repair wagons and carts is regarded 
as a benefactor by both races in the community 
where he goes. The people with whom he lives 
and works are going to think twice before they part 
with such a man. 

The individual who can do something that the 
world wants done will, in the end, make his way 
regardless of his race. One man may go into a 
community prepared to supply the people there 
with an analysis of Greek sentences. The com- 
munity may not at that time be prepared for, or 
feel the need of, Greek analysis, but it may feel its 
need of bricks and houses and wagons. If the man 
can supply the need for those, then, it will lead 
eventually to a demand for the first product, and 
with the demand will come the ability to appreciate 
it and to profit by it. 

About the time that we succeeded in burning our 
first kiln of bricks we began facing in an empha- 
sized form the objection of the students to being 
taught to work. By this time it had gotten to be 
pretty well advertised throughout the state that 
every student who came to Tuskegee, no matter 
what his financial ability might be, must learn some 
industry. Quite a number of letters came from 
parents protesting against their children enga^ng 
in labour while they were in the school. Other 


parents came to the school to protest in person. 
Most of the new students brought a written or a 
verbal request from their parents to the effect that 
they wanted their children taught nothing but 
books. The more books, the larger they were, and 
the longer the titles printed upon them, the better 
pleased the students and theiv parents seemed to be. 

I gave little heed to these protests, except that I 
lost no opportunity to go into as many parts of the 
state as I could, for the purpose of speaking to the 
parents, and showing them the value of industrial 
education. Besides, I talked to the students con- 
stantly on the subject. Notwithstanding the un- 
popularity of industrial work, the school continued 
to increase in numbers to such an extent that by 
the middle of the second year there was an attend- 
ance of about one hundred and fifty, representing 
almost all parts of the state of Alabama, and includ- 
ing a few from other states. 

In the summer of 1882 Miss Davidson and I 
both went North and engaged in the work of rais- 
ing funds for the completion of our new building. 
On my way North I stopped in New York to try 
to get a letter of recommendation from an officer of 
a missionary organization who had become some- 
what acquainted with me a few years previous. 
This man not only refused to give me the letter, 


but advised me most earnestly to go back home at 
once, and not make an attempt to get money, for 
he was quite sure that I would never get more than 
enough to pay my travelling expenses. I thanked 
him for his advice, and proceeded on my journey. 

The first place I went to In the North, was North- 
ampton, Mass., where I spent nearly a half-day in 
looking for a coloured family with whom I could 
board, never dreaming that any hotel would admit me. 
I was greatly surprised when I found that I would 
have no trouble in being accommodated at a hotel. 

We were successful in getting money enough so 
that on Thanksgiving Day of that year we held our 
first service in the chapel of Porter Hall, although 
the building was not completed. 

In looking about for some one to preach the 
Thanksgiving sermon, I found one of the rarest 
men that it has ever been my privilege to know. 
This was the Rev. Robert C. Bedford, a white man 
from Wisconsin, who was then pastor of a little col- 
oured Congregational church in Montgomery, Ala. 
Before going to Montgomery to look for some one 
to preach this sermon I had never heard of Mr. 
Bedford. He had never heard of me. He gladly 
consented to come to Tuskegee and hold the 
Thanksgiving service. It was the first service of 
the kind that the coloured people there had ever 


observied, and what a deep interest they manifested 
in it ! The sight of the new building made it a day 
of Thanksgiving for them never to be forgotten. 

Mr. Bedford consented to become one of the 
trustees of the school, and in that capacity, and as a 
worker for it, he has been connected with it for 
eighteen years. During this time he has borne the 
school upon his heart night and day, and is never 
so happy as when he is performing some service, no 
matter how humble, for it. He completely obliter- 
ates himself in everything, and looks only for per- 
mission to serve where service is most disagreeable, 
and where others would not be attracted. In all my 
relations with him he has seemed to me to approach 
as nearly to the spirit of the Master as almost any 
man I ever met. 

A little later there came into the service of the 
school another man, quite young at the time, and 
fresh from Hampton, without whose service the 
school never could have become what it is. This 
was Mr. Warren Logan, who now for seventeen 
years has been the treasurer of the Institute, and 
the acting principal during my absence. He has 
always shown a degree of unselfishness and an 
amount of business tact, coupled with a clear judg- 
ment, that has kept the school in good condition no 
matter how long I have been absent from it. Dur- 


ing all the financial stress through which the school 
has passed, his patience and faith in our ultimate 
success have not left him. 

As soon as our first building was near enough to 
completion so that we could occupy a portion of it 
— which was near the middle of the second year of 
the school — we opened a boarding department. 
Students had begun coming from quite a distance, 
and in such increasing numbers that we felt more 
and more that we were merely skimming over the 
surface, in that we were not getting hold of the stu- 
dents in their home life. 

We had nothing but the students and their appe- 
tites with which to bfegin a boarding department. 
No provision had been made in the new building 
for a kitchen and dining room ; but we discovered 
that by digging out a large amount of earth from 
under the building we could make a partially 
lighted basement room that could be used for a 
kitchen and dining room. Again I called on the 
students to volunteer for work, this time to assist in 
digging out the basement. This they did, and in a 
few weeks we had a place to cook and eat in, although 
it was very rough and uncomfortable. Any one see- 
ing the place now would never believe that it was 
once used for a dining room. 

The most serious problem, though, was to get 


the boarding department started off in running 
order, with nothing to do with in the way of fur- 
niture, and with no money with which to buy 
anything. The merchants in the town would let 
us have what food we wanted on credit. In fact, 
in those earlier years I was constantly embarrassed 
because people seemed to have more faith in me 
than I had in myself. It was pretty hard to cook, 
however, without stoves, and awkward to eat with- 
out dishes. At first the cooking was done out-of- 
doors, in the old-fashioned, primitive style, in pots 
and skillets placed over a fire. Some of the carpen- 
ters' benches that had been used in the construction 
of the building were utilized for tables. As for 
dishes, there were too few to make it worth while 
to spend time in describing them. 

No one connected with the boarding department 
seemed to have any idea that meals must be served 
at certain fixed and regular hours, and this was a 
source of great worry. Everything was so out of 
joint and so inconvenient that I feel safe in saying 
that for the first two weeks something was wrong at 
every meal. Either the meat was not done or had 
been burnt, or the salt had been left out of the 
bread, or the tea had been forgotten. 

Early one morning I was standing near the 
dining-room door listening to the complaints of 


the students. The complaints that morning were 
especially emphatic and numerous, because the whole 
breakfast had been a failure. One of the girls who 
had failed to get any breakfast came out and went 
to the well to draw some water to drink to take the 
place of the breakfast which she had not been able 
to get. When she reached the well, she found that 
the rope was broken and that she could get no water. 
She turned from the well and said, in the most dis- 
couraged tone, not knowing that I was where I 
could hear her, " We can't even get water to drink 
at this school.'' I think no one remark ever came 
so near discouraging me as that one. 

At another time, when Mr. Bedford — whom I 
have already spoken of as one of our trustees, and 
a devoted friend of the institution — was visiting 
the school, he was given a bedroom immediately 
over the dining room. Early in the morning he 
was awakened by a rather animated discussion be- 
tween two boys in the dining room below. The 
discussion was over the question as to whose turn 
it was to use the coffee-cup that morning. One 
boy won the case by proving that for three morn- 
ings he had not had an opportunity to use the cup 
at all. 

But gradually, by patience and hard work, we 
brought order out of chaos, just as will be true of 


any problem if we stick to it with patience and 
wisdom and earnest effort. 

As I look back now over that part of our struggle, 
I am glad that we had it. I am glad that we 
endured all those discomforts and inconveniences. 
I am glad that our students had to dig out the place 
for their kitchen and dining room. I am glad that 
our first boarding-place was in that dismal, ill-lighted, 
and damp basement. Had we started in a fine, 
attractive, convenient room, I fear we would have 
"lost our heads" and become "stuck up.'* It 
means a great deal, I think, to start off on a founda- 
tion which one has made for one's self. 

When our old students return to Tuskegee now, 
as they often do, and go into our large, beautiful, 
well-ventilated, and well-lighted dining room, and 
see tempting, well-cooked food — largely grown by 
the students themselves — and see tables, neat 
tablecloths and napkins, and vases of flowers 
upon the tables, and hear singing birds, and note 
that each meal is served exactly upon the minute, 
with no disorder, and with almost no complaint 
coming from the hundreds that now fill our dining 
room, they, too, often say to me that they are glad 
that we started as we did, and built ourselves up 
year by year, by a slow and natural process of 




A LITTLE later in the history of the school 
we had a visit from General J. F. B. Mar- 
shall, the Treasurer of the Hampton Insti- 
tute, who had had faith enough to lend us the first 
two hundred and fifty dollars with which to make 
a payment down on the farm. He remained with 
us a week, and made a careful inspection of every- 
thing. He seemed well pleased with our progress, 
and wrote back interesting and encouraging reports 
to Hampton. A little later Miss Mary F. Mackie, 
the teacher who had given me the " sweeping " ex- 
amination when I entered Hampton, came to see us, 
and still later General Armstrong himself came. 

At the time of the visits of these Hampton friends 
the number of teachers at Tuskegee had increased 
considerably, and the most of the new teachers were 
graduates of the Hampton Institute. We gave our 
Hampton friends, especially General Armstrong, a 

cordial welcome. They were all surprised and pleased 



at the rapid progress that the school had made 
within so short a time. The coloured people from 
miles around came to the school to get a look at 
General Armstrong, about whom they had heard so 
much. The General was not only welcomed by 
the members of my own race, but by the Southern 
white people as well. 

This first visit which General Armstrong made 
to Tuskegee gave me an opportunity to get an 
insight into his character such as I had not before 
had. I refer to his interest in the Southern white 
people. Before this I had had the thought that 
General Armstrong, having fought the Southern 
white man, rather cherished a feeling of bitterness 
toward the white South, and was interested in help- 
ing only the coloured man there. But this visit con- 
vinced me that I did not know the greatness and the 
generosity of the man. I soon learned, by his visits 
to the Southern white people, and from his conver- 
sations with them, that he was as anxious about the 
prosperity and the happiness of the white race as 
the black. He cherished no bitterness against the 
South, and was happy when an opportunity offered 
for manifesting his sympathy. In all my acquaint- 
ance with General Armstrong I never heard him 
speak, in public or in private, a single bitter word 
against the white man in the South. From his 



example in this respect I learned the lesson that 
great men cultivate love, and that only little men 
cherish a spirit of hatred. I learned that assistance 
given to the weak makes the one who gives it 
strong; and that oppression of the unfortunate 
makes one weak. 

It is now long ago that I learned this lesson from ^ 
General Armstrong, and resolved that I would per- 
mit no man, no matter what his colour might be, to 
narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate 
him. With God's help, I believe that I have com- 
pletely rid myself of any ill feeling toward the 
Southern white man for any wrong that he may 
have inflicted upon my race. I am made to feel 
just as happy now when I am rendering service to 
Southern white men as when the service is rendered 
to a member of my own race. I pity from the 
bottom of my heart any individual who is so unfor- 
tunate as to get into the habit of holding race prej- 

The more I consider the subject, the more 
strongly I am convinced that the most harmful 
eflfect of the practice to which the people in certain 
sections of the South have felt themselves com- 
pelled to resort, in order to get rid of the force of 
the Negroes' ballot, is not wholly in the wrong done 
to the Negro, but in the permanent injury to the 


morals of the white man. The wrong to the Negro 
is temporary, but to the morals of the white man 
the injury is permanent. I have noted time and 
time again that when an individual peijures him- 
self in order to break the force of the black man's 
ballot, he soon learns to practise dishonesty in other 
relations of life, not only where the Negro is con- 
cerned, but equally so where a white man is con- 
cerned. The white man who begins by cheating a 
Negro usually ends by cheating a white man. The 
white man who begins to break the law by lynch- 
ing a Negro soon yields to the temptation to lynch 
a white man. All this, it seems to me, makes it im- 
portant that the whole Nation lend a hand in trying 
to lift the burden of ignorance from the South. 

Another thing that is becoming more apparent 
each year in the development of education in the 
South is the influence of General Armstrong's idea 
of education ; and this not upon the blacks alone, 
but upon the whites also. At the present time 
there is almost no Southern state that is not put- 
ting forth efforts in the direction of securing indus^ 
trial education for its white boys and girls, and in 
most cases it is easy to trace the history of these 
efforts back to General Armstrong. 

Soon after the opening of our humble boarding 
department students began coming to us in still 


laufger numbers. For weeks we not only had to 
contend with the difficulty of providing board, with 
no money, but also with that of providing sleeping 
accommodations. For this purpose we rented a 
number of cabins near the school. These cabins 
were in a dilapidated condition, and during the 
winter months the students who occupied them 
necessarily suffered from the cold. We chat^d 
the students eight dollars a month — all they were 
able to pay — for their board. This included, 
besides board, room, fuel, and washing. We also 
gave the students credit on their board bills for all 
the work which they did for the school which was 
of any value to the institution. The cost of tui- 
tion, which was fifty dollars a year for each student, 
we had to secure then, as now, wherever we could. 

This small charge in cash gave us no capital 
with which to start a boarding department. The 
weather during the second winter of our work was 
very cold. We were not able to provide enough 
bed-clothes to keep the students warm. In fact, 
for some time we were not able to provide, except 
in a few cases, bedsteads and mattresses of any 
kind. During the coldest nights I was so troubled 
about the discomfort of the students that I could 
not sleep myself. I recall that on several occasions 
X went in the middle of the night to the shanties 


occupied by the young men, for the purpose of 
comforting them. Often I found some of them 
sitting huddled around a fire, with the one blanket 
which we had been able to provide wrapped around 
them, trying in this way to keep warm. During 
the whole night some of them did not attempt to lie 
down. One morning, when the night previous had 
been unusually cold, I asked those of the students 
in the chapel who thought that they had been 
frostbitten during the night to raise their hands. 
Three hands went up. Notwithstanding these 
experiences, there was almost no complaining on 
the part of the students. They knew that we were 
doing the best that we could for them. They 
were happy in the privilege of being permitted to 
enjoy any kind of opportunity that would enable 
them to improve their condition. They were con- 
stantly asking what they might do to lighten the 
burdens of the teachers. 

I have heard it stated more than once, both in 
the North and in the South, that coloured people 
would not obey and respect each other when one 
member of the race is placed in a position of 
authority over others. In regard to this general 
belief and these statements, I can say that during 
the nineteen years of my experience at Tuskcgce I 
never, either by word or act, have been treated 


with disrespect by any student or officer connected 
with the institution. On the other hand, I am 
constantly embarrassed by the many acts of 
thoughtful kindness. The students do not seem to 
want to see me carry a large book or a satchel or 
any kind of a burden through the grounds. In 
such cases more than one always offers to relieve 
me. I almost never go out of my office when the 
rain is filing that some student does not come to 
my side with an umbrella and ask to be allowed to 
hold it over me. 

While writing upon this subject, it is a pleasure 
for me to add that in all my contact with the 
white people of the South I have never received a 
single personal insult. The white people in and 
near Tuskegee, to an especial degree, seem to count 
it a privilege to show me all the respect within their 
power, and often go out of their way to do this. 

Not very long ago I was making a journey 
between Dallas (Texas) and Houston. In some 
way it became known in advance that I was on the 
train. At nearly every station at which the train 
stopped, numbers of white people, including in most 
cases the officials of the town, came aboard and 
introduced themselves and thanked me heartily for 
the work that I was trying to do for the South. 

On another occasion, when I was making a trip 


from Augusta, GJcorgia, to Atlanta, being rather 
tired from much travel, I rode in a Pullman sleeper. 
When I went into the car, I found there two ladies 
from Bo$ton whom I knew well« These good ladies 
were perfectly ignorant, it seems, of the customs of 
the South, and in the goodness of their hearts 
insisted that I take a seat with them in their sec- 
tion. After some hesitation I consented. I had 
been there but a few minutes when one of them, 
without my knowledge, ordered supper to be served 
to the three of us. This embarrassed me still 
further. The car was full of Southern white men, 
most of whom had their eyes on our party. When 
1 found that supper had been ordered, I tried to 
contrive some excuse that would permit me to leave 
the section, but the ladies insisted that I must eat 
with them. I finally settled back in my scat with a 
sigh, and said to myself, " I am in for it now, 

To add further to the embarrassment of the situ- 
ation, soon after the supper was placed on the table 
one of the ladies remembered that she had in her 
satchel a special kind of tea which she wished 
served, and as she said she felt quite sure the porter 
did not know how to brew it properly, she insisted 
upon getting up and preparing and serving it her- 
telf. At last the meal was over ; and it seemed the 


longest one that I had ever eaten. When we were 
through, I decided to get myself out of the embar- 
rassing situation and go into the smoking-room, 
where most of the men were by that time, to see 
how the land lay. In the meantime, however, it 
had become known in some way throughout the ear 
who I was. When I went into the smoking-room 
I was never more surprised in my life than when 
each man, nearly every one of them a citizen of 
Georgia, came up and introduced himself to me and 
thanked me earnestly for the work that I was trying 
to do for the whole South. This was not flattery, 
because each one of these individuals knew that he 
had nothing to gain by trying to flatter me. 

From the first I have sought to impress the stu-* 
dents with the idea that Tuskegee is not my insti- 
tution, or that of the officers, but that it is their 
institution, and that they have as much interest in 
it as any of the trustees or instructors. I have 
further sought to have them feel that I am at the 
institution as their friend and adviser, and not as 
their overseer. It has been my aim to have them 
speak with directness and frankness about anything 
that concerns the life of the school. Two or three 
times a year I ask the students to write me a letter 
criticising or making complaints or suggestions about 
anything connected with the institution. When 


this is not done, I have them meet me in the chapel 
for a heart-to-heart taljc about the conduct of the 
school. There are no meetings with our students 
that I enjoy more than these, and none are more 
helpful to me in planning for the future. These 
meetings, it seems to me, enable me to get at the 
very heart of all that concerns the school. Few 
things help an individual more than to place respon- 
sibility upon him, and to let him know that you 
trust him. When I have read of labour troubles 
between employers and employees, I have often 
thought that many strikes and similar disturbances 
might be avoided if the employers would cultivate 
the habit of getting nearer to their employees, of 
consulting and advising with them, and letting them 
feel that the interests of the two are the same. 
Every individual responds to confidence, and this 
is not more true of any race than of the Negroes. 
Let them once understand that you are unselfishly 
interested in them, and you can lead them to any 

It was my aim from the first at Tuskegee to not 
only have the buildings erected by the students 
themselves, but to have them make their own fur- 
niture as far as was possible. I now marvel at the 
patience of the students while sleeping upon the 
floor while waiting for some kind of a bedstead to 


be constructed, or at their sleeping without any kind 
of a mattress while waiting for something that looked 
like a mattress to be made. 

In the early days we had very few students who 
had been used to handling carpenters' tools, and 
the bedsteads made by the students then were very 
rough and very weak. Not unfrequently when I 
went into the students' rooms in the morning I 
would find at least two bedsteads lying about on 
the floor. The problem of providing mattresses 
was a difficult one to solve. We finally mastered 
this, however, by getting some cheap cloth and 
sewing pieces of this together so as to make large 
bags. These bags we filled with the pine straw — 
or, as it is sometimes called, pine needles — which 
we secured from the forests near by. I am glad to 
3ay that the industry of mattress-making has grown 
steadily since then, and has been improved to such 
an extent that at the present time it is an important 
branch of the work which is taught systematically 
to a number of our girls, and that the mattresses 
that now come out of the mattress-shop at Tuske- 
gee are about as good as those bought in the aver- 
age store. For some time after the opening of the 
boarding department we had no chairs in the stu- 
dents' bedrooms or in the dining rooms. Instead 
of chairs we used stools which the students con^ 


structed by nailing together three pieces of rough 
board. As a rule, the fiirniture in the students' 
rooms during the early days of the school consisted 
of a bed, some stools, and sometimes a rough table 
made by the students. The plan of having the 
students make the furniture is still followed, but the 
number of pieces in a room has been increased, and 
the workmanship has so improved that little fault 
can be found with the articles now. One thing that 
I have always insisted upon at Tuskegee is that 
everywhere there should be absolute cleanliness. 
Over and over again the students were reminded in 
those first years — and are reminded now — that 
people would excuse us for our poverty, for our lack 
of comforts and conveniences, but that they would 
not excuse us for dirt. 

Another thing that has been insisted upon at the 
school is the use of the tooth-brush. " The gospel 
of the tooth-brush,'* as General Armstrong used to 
call it, is a part of our creed at Tuskegee. No stu- 
dent is permitted to remain who does not keep and 
use a tooth-brush. Several times, in recent yeans, 
students have come to us who brought with them 
almost no other article except a tooth-brush. They 
had heard from the lips of older students about our 
insisting upon the use of this, and so, to make a 
good impression, they brought at least a tooth- 


brash with them. I remember that one morning, 
not long ago, I went with the lady principal on her 
usual morning tour of inspection of the girls' rooms. 
We found one room that contained three girls' who 
had recently arrived at the school. When I asked 
them if they had tooth-brushes, one of the girls 
replied, pointing to a brush: "Yes, sir. That is 
our brush. We bought it together, yesterday/* It 
did not take them long to learn a diiierent lesson. 

It has been interesting to note the effect that the 
use of the tooth-brush has had in bringing about 
a higher degree of civilization among the students. 
With few exceptions, I have noticed that, if we can 
get a student to the point where, when the first ox 
second tooth-brush disappears, he of his own motion 
buys another, I have not been disappointed in the 
future of that individual. Absolute cleanliness of 
the body has been insisted upon from the first. The 
students have been taught to bathe as regularly as 
to take their meals. This lesson we began teaching 
before we had anything in the shape of a bath-house. 
Most of the students came from plantation districts, 
and often we had to teach them how to sleep at 
night y that is, whether between the two sheets — 
after we got to the point where we could provide 
them two sheets — or under both of them. Natu- 
rally I found it difficult to teach them to sleep 


between two sheets when we were able to supply 
but one. The importance of the use of the night- 
gown received the same attention. 

For a long time one of the most difficult tasks 
was to teach the students that all the buttons were 
to be kept on their clothes, and that there must be 
no torn places and no grease-spots. This lesson, I 
am pleased to be able to say, has been so thoroughly 
learned and so faithfully handed down from year to 
year by one set of students to another that often at 
the present time, when the students march out of 
chapel in the evening and their dress is inspected, 
us it is every night, not one button is to be found 



WHEN we opened our boarding depart- 
ment, we provided rooms in the attic of 
Porter Hall, our first building, for a 
number of girls. But the number of students, of 
both sexes, continued to increase. We could find 
rooms outside the school grounds for many of the 
young men, but the girls we did not care to expose 
in this way. Very soon the problem of providing 
more rooms for the girls, as well as a larger board- 
ing department for all the students, grew serious. 
As a result, we finally decided to undertake the 
construction of a still larger building — a building 
that would contain rooms for the girls and boarding 
accommodations for all. 

After having had a preliminary sketch of the 
needed building made, we found that it would cost 
about ten thousand dollars. We had no money 
whatever with which to begin ; still we decided to 
give the needed building a name. We knew we 

could name it, even though we were in doubt about 



our ability to secure the means for its construction. 
We decided to call the proposed building Alabama 
Hall, in honour of the state in which we were labour- 
ing. Again Miss Davidson began making efforts 
to enlist the interest and help of the coloured and 
white people in and near Tuskegee. They re- 
sponded willingly, in proportion to their means. 
The students^ as in the case of our first building, 
Porter Hall, began digging out the dirt in order to 
allow of the laying of the foundations. 

When we seemed at the end of our resources^ so 
far as securing money was concerned, something 
occurred which showed the greatness of General 
Armstrong — something which proved how far he 
was above the ordinary individual. When we were 
in the midst of great anxiety as to where and how 
we were to get funds for the new building, I received 
a telegram from General Armstrong asking me if I 
could spend a month travelling with him through 
the North, and asking me, if I could do so, to 
come to Hampton at once. Of Course I accepted 
General Armstrong's invitation, and went to Hamp- 
ton immediately. On arriving there I found that 
the General had decided to take a quartette of 
singers through the North, and hold meetings for 
a month in important cities, at which meetings he 
and I were to speak. Imagine my surprise when 


the General told me, further, that these meetings 
were to be held, not in the interests of Hampton, 
but in the interests of Tuskegee, and that the 
Hampton Institute was to be responsible for all 
the expenses. 

Although he never told me so in so many 
words, I found out that General Armstrong took 
this method of introducing me to the people of the 
North, as well as for the sake of securing some 
immediate funds to be used in the erection of Ala- 
bama Hall. A weak and narrow man would have 
reasoned that all the money which came to Tuske- 
gee in this way would be just so much taken from 
the Hampton Institute; but none of these selfish 
or short-sighted feelings ever entered the breast of 
General Armstrong. He was too big to be little, 
too good to be mean. He knew that the people 
in the North who gave money gave it for the pur- 
pose of helping the whole cause of Negro civiliza- 
tion, and not merely for the advancement of any 
one school. The General knew, too, that the way 
to strengthen Hampton was to make it a centre of 
unselfish power in the working out of the whole 
Southern problem. 

In regard to the addresses which I was to makt 
in the North, I recall just one piece of advice which 
the General gave me. He said: '^Give them an 


idea for every word/' I think it would be hard to 
improve upon this advice; and it might be made 
to apply to all public speaking. From that time to 
the present I have always tried to keep his advice 
in mind. 

Meetings were held in New York, Brooklyn, 
Boston, Philadelphia, and other large cities, and at 
all of these meetings General Armstrong pleaded, 
together with myself, for help, not for Hampton, 
but for Tuskegee. At these meetings an especial 
effort was made to secure help for the building of 
Alabama Hall, as well as to introduce the school 
to the attention of the general public. In both 
these respects the meetings proved successful. 

After that kindly introduction I began going 
North alone to secure funds. During the last fif- 
teen years I have been compelled to spend a large 
proportion of my time away from the school, in an 
effort to secure money to provide for the growing 
needs of the institution. In my efforts to get funds 
I have had some experiences that may be of interest 
to my readers. Time and time again I have been 
asked, by people who are trying to secure money 
for philanthropic purposes, what rule or rules I fol- 
lowed to secure the interest and help of people who 
were able to contribute money to worthy objects. 
As f9x as the science of what is called begging can 


be reduced to rules^ I would say that I have had 
but two rules. First, always to do my whole duty 
regarding making our work known to individuals 
and organizations ; and, second, not to worry about 
the results. This second rule has been the hardest 
for me to live up to. When bills are on the eve of 
falling due, with not a dollar in hand with which to 
meet them, it is pretty difficult to learn not to 
worry, although I think I am learning more and 
more each year that all worry simply consumes, and 
to no purpose, just so much physical and mental 
strength that might otherwise be given to effective 
work. After considerable experience in coming 
into contact with wealthy and noted men, I have 
observed that those who have accomplished the 
greatest results are those who "keep under the 
body " ; are those who never grow excited or lose 
self-control, but are always calm, self-possessed, 
patient, and polite. I think that President Will- 
iam McKinley is the best example of a man of this 
class that I have ever seen. 

In order to be successful in any kind of under- 
taking, I think the main thing is for one to grow to 
the point where he completely forgets himself; that 
is, to lose himself in a great cause. In proportion 
as one loses himself in this way, in the same degree 
does he get the highest happiness out of his work. 


My experience in getting money for Tuskegee 
has taught me to have no patience with those peo* 
p\e who are always condemning the rich because 
they are rich, and because they do not give more 
to objects of charity. In the first place, those who 
are guilty of such sweeping criticisms do not know 
how many people would be made poor, and how 
much suffering would result, if wealthy people were 
to part all at once with any large proportion of 
their wealth in a way to disorganize and cripple 
great business enterprises. Then very few persons 
have any idea of the large number of applications 
for help that rich people are constantly being flooded 
with. I know wealthy people who receive as many 
as twenty calls a day for help. More than once, 
when I have gone into the offices of rich men, I 
have found half a dozen persons waiting to see 
them, and all come for the same purpose, that of 
securing money. And all these calls in person, to 
say nothing of the applications received through 
the mails. Very few people have any idea of the 
amount of money given away by persons who 
never permit their names to be known. I have 
often heard persons condemned for not giving 
away money, who, to my own knowledge, were 
giving away thousands of dollars every year so 
quietly that the world knew nothing about it 


As an example of this, there are two ladies in 
New York, whose names rarely appear in print, but 
who, in a quiet way, have given us the means with 
which to erect three large and important buildings 
during the last eight years. Besides the gift of 
these buildings, they have made other generous 
donations to the school. And they not only help 
Tuskegee, but they are constantly seeking oppor- 
tunities to help other worthy causes. 

Although it has been my privilege to be the 
medium through which a good many hundred 
thousand dollars have been received for the work 
at Tuskegee, I have always avoided what the world 
calls "begging." I often tell people that I have 
never " begged " any money, and that I am not a 
"beggar." My experience and observation have 
convinced me that persistent asking outright for 
money from the rich does not, as a rule, secure 
help. I have usually proceeded on the principle 
that persons who possess sense enough to earn 
money have sense enough to know how to give it 
away, and that the mere making known of the facts 
regarding Tuskegee, and especially the facts regard- 
ing the work of the graduates, has been more effec- 
tive than outright begging. I think that the 
presentation of facts, on a high, dignified plane, is 
all the begging that most rich people care for. 


While the work of going from door to door and 
from office to office is hard, disagreeable, and costly 
in bodily strength, yet it has some compensations. 
Such work gives one a rare opportunity to study 
human nature. It also has its compensations in 
giving one an opportunity to meet some of the 
best people in the world — to be more correct, I 
think I should say the best people in the world. 
When one takes a broad survey of the country, he 
will find that the most useful and influential people 
in it are those who take the deepest interest in insti- 
tutions that exist for the purpose of making the 
world better. 

At one time, when I was in Boston, I called at 
the door of a rather wealthy lady, and was admitted 
to the vestibule and sent up my card. While I 
was waiting for an answer, her husband came in, 
and asked me in the most abrupt manner what I 
wanted. When I tried to explain the object of my 
call, he became still more ungentlemanly in his 
words and manner, and finally grew so excited that 
I left the house without waiting for a reply from 
the lady. A few blocks from that house I called 
to see a gentleman who received me in the most 
cordial manner. He wrote me his check for a gen- 
erous sum, and then, before I had had an oppor- 
tunity to thank him^ said: '^ I am so grateful to 


you, Mr. Washington, for giving mc the opportu- 
nity to help a good cause. It is a privilege to have 
a share in it. We in Boston are constantly indebted 
to you for doing our work." My experience in se- 
curing money convinces me that the first type of 
man is growing more rare all the time, and that the 
latter type is increasing; that is, that, more and 
more, rich people are coming to regard men and 
women who apply to them for help for worthy ob- 
jects, not as beggars, but as agents for doing their 

In the city of Boston I have rarely called upon 
an individual for funds that I have not been thanked 
for calling, usually before I could get an opportu- 
nity to thank the donor for the money. In that 
city the donors seem to feel, in a large degree, that 
an honour is being conferred upon them in their 
being permitted to give. Nowhere else have I met 
with, in so large a measure, this fine and Christlike 
spirit as in the city of Boston, although there are 
many notable instances of it outside that city. I 
repeat my belief that the world is growing in the 
direction of giving. I repeat that the main rule by 
which I have been guided in collecting money is 
to do my full duty in regard to giving people who 
have money an opportunity to help. 

In the early years of the Tuskegee school I 


walked the streets or travelled country roads in the 
North for days and days without receiving a dollar. 
Often it has happened, when during the week I had 
been disappointed in not getting a cent from the 
very individuals from whom I most expected help, 
and when I was almost broken down and discour- 
aged, that generous help has come from some one 
who I had had little idea would give at all. 

I recall that on one occasion I obtained informa- 
tion that led me to believe that a gentleman who 
lived about two miles out in the country from Stam- 
ford, Conn., might become interested in our efforts 
at Tuskegee if our conditions and needs were pre- 
sented to him. On an unusually cold and stormy 
day I walked the two miles to see him. After some 
difficulty. I succeeded in securing an interview with 
him. He listened with some degree of interest to 
what I had to say, but did not give me anything. 
I could not help having the feeling that, in a meas- 
ure, the three hours that I had spent in seeing him 
had been thrown away. Still, I had followed my 
usual rule of doing my duty. If I had not seen 
him, I should have felt unhappy over neglect of 

Two years after this visit a letter came to Tuske- 
gee from this man, which read like this : '^ Enclosed 
I send you a New York draft for ten thousand dol- 


lars, to be used in furtherance of your work. I had 
placed this sum in my will for your school, but deem 
it wiser to give it to you while I live. I recall with 
pleasure your visit to me two years ago." 

I can hardly imagine any occurrence which could 
have given me more genuine satisfaction than the 
receipt of this draft. It was by far the largest 
single donation which up to that time the school 
had ever received. It came at a time when an 
unusually long period had passed since we had 
received any money. We were in great distress 
because of lack of funds, and the nervous strain 
was tremendous. It is difficult for me to think of 
any situation that is more trying on the nerves than 
that of conducting a large institution, with heavy 
financial obligations to meet, without knowing 
where the money is to come from to meet these 
obligations from month to month. 

In our case I felt a double responsibility, and 
this made the anxiety all the more intense. If the 
institution had been officered by white persons, and 
had failed, it would have injured the cause of Negro 
education ; but I knew that the failure of our insti- 
tution, officered by Negroes, would not only mean 
the loss of a school, but would cause people, in a 
large degree, to lose faith in the ability of the entire 
race. The receipt of this draft for ten thousand 


dollars, under all these circumstances, partially 
lifted a burden that had been pressing down upon 
me for days. 

From the beginning of our work to the present 
I have always had the feeling, and lose no oppor- 
tunity to impress our teachers with the same idea, 
that the school will always be supported in propor- 
tion as the inside of the institution is kept clean 
and pure and wholesome. 

The first time I ever saw the late CoUis P. Hunt- 
ington, the great railroad man, he gave me two dol- 
lars for our school. The last time I saw him, which 
was a few months before he died, he gave me fifty 
thousand dollars toward our endowment fund. Be- 
tween these two gifts there were others of generous 
proportions which came every year from both Mr. 
and Mrs. Huntington. 

Some people may say that it was Tuskegee's 
good luck that brought to us this gift of fifty 
thousand dollars. No, it was not luck. It was 
hard work. Nothing ever comes to one, that is 
worth having, except as a result of hard work. 
When Mr. Huntington gave me the first two dol- 
lars, I did not blame him for not giving me more, 
but made up my mind that I was going to con- 
vince him by tangible results that we were worthy 
of larger gifts. For a dozen years I made a strong 


effort to convince Mr. Huntington of the value of 
our work. I noted that just in proportion as the 
usefulness of the school grew, his donations in- 
creased. Never did I meet an individual who 
took a more kindly and sympathetic interest in our 
school than did Mr. Huntington. He not only 
gave money to us, but took time in which to advise 
me, as a father would a son, about the general con-* 
duct of the school. 

More than once I have found myself in some 
pretty tight places while collecting money in the 
North. The following incident I have never re- 
lated but once before, for the reason that I feared 
that people would not believe it. One morning I 
found myself in Providence, Rhode Island, without 
a cent of money with which to buy breakfast. In 
crossing the street to see a lady /rom whom I 
hoped to get some money, I found a bright new 
twenty-five-cent piece in the middle of the street- 
car track. I not only had this twenty-five cents 
for my breakfast, but within a few minutes I had a 
donation from the lady on whom I had started to 

At one of our Commencements I was bold 
enough to invite the Rev. E. Winchester Donald, 
D.D., rector of Trinity Church, Boston, to preach 
the Commencement sermofit As we then had no 


room large enough to accommodate all who would 
be present, the place of meeting was under a large, 
improvised arbour, built partly of brush and partly 
• of rough boards. Soon after Dr. Donald had begun 
speaking, the rain came down in torrents, ^nd he had 
to stop, while some one held an umbrella over him. 

The boldness of what I had done never dawned 
upon me until I saw the picture made by the rector 
of Trinity Church standing before that large audi- 
ence under an old umbrella, waiting for the rain to 
cease so that he could go on with his address. 

It was not very long before the rain ceased and 
Dr. Donald finished his sermon ; and an excellent 
sermon it was, too, in spite of the weather. After 
he had gone to his room, and had gotten the wet 
threads of his clothes dry. Dr. Donald ventured 
the remark that a large chapel at Tuskegee would 
not be out of place. The next day a letter came 
from two ladies who were then travelling in Italy, 
saying that they had decided to give us the money 
for such a chapel as we needed. 

A short time ago we received twenty thousand 
dollars from Mr. Andrew Carnegie, to be used for 
the purpose of erecting a new library building. 
Our first library and reading-room were in a corner 
of a shanty, and the whole thing occupied a spac^ 
^bout five by twelve feet. It required ten years of 


work before I was able to secure Mr. Carnegie's 
interest and help. The first time I saw him, ten 
years ago, he seemed to take but little interest in 
our school, but I was determined to show him that 
we were worthy of his help. After ten years of 
hard work I wrote him a letter reading as follows : 

December 15, 1900. 
Mr. Andrew Carnegie, 5 W. Fifty-first St., New 

Dear Sir : Complying with the request which you 
made of me when I saw you at your residence a few days 
ago, I now submit in writing an appeal for a library build* 
ing for our institution. 

Wc have iioo students, 86 officers and instructors, to- 
gether with their families, and about 200 coloured people 
living near the school, all of whom would make use of the 
library building. 

We have over 1 2,000 books, periodicals, etc., gifts from 
our friends, but we have no suitable place for them, and 
we have no suitable reading-room. 

Our graduates go to work in every section of the South, 
and whatever knowledge might be obtained in the library 
would serve to assist in the elevation of the whole Negro 

Such a building as we need could be erected for about 
jS20,ooo. All of the work for the building, such as 
brickmaking, bri^rk-masonry, carpentry, blacksmithing, etc., 
would be done by the students. The money which you 
would give would not only supply the building, but the 


erection of the building would give a large number of stu- 
dents an opportunity to learn the building trades, and the 
students would use the money paid to them to keep them« 
selves in school. I do not believe that a similar amount 
of money often could be made go so far in uplifting a 
whole race. 

If you wish further information, I shall be glad to fur- 
nish it. 

Yours truly, 

Booker T. Washington, Principal. 

The next mail brought back the following reply : 
" I will be very glad to pay the bills for the library 
building as they are incurred, to the extent of twenty 
thousand dollars, and I am glad of this opportunity 
to show the interest I have in your noble work." 

I have found that strict business methods go a 
long way in securing the interest of rich people. It 
has been my constant aim at Tuskegee to carry out, 
in our financial and other operations, such business 
methods as would be approved of by any New York 
banking house. 

I have spoken of several large gifts to the school ; 
but by far the greater proportion of the money that 
has built up the institution has come in the form of 
small donations from persons of moderate means. 
It is upon these small gifts, which carry with them 
the interest of hundreds of donors, that any philan- 
thropic work must depend largely for its support 


In my efforts to get money I have often been sur- 
prised at the patience and deep interest of the min- 
isters, who are besieged on every hand and at all 
hours of the day for help. If no other considera- 
tion had convinced me of the value of the Christian 
life, the Christlike work which the Church of all 
denominations in America has done during the last 
thirty-five years for the elevation of the black man 
would have made me a Christian. In a large degree 
it has been the pennies, the nickels, and the dimes 
which have come from the Sunday-schools, the 
Christian Endeavour societies, and the missionary 
societies, as well as from the church proper, that 
have helped to elevate the Negro at so rapid a rate. 

This speaking of small gifts reminds me to say 
that very few Tuskegee graduates fail to send us 
an annual contribution. These contributions range 
from twenty-five cents up to ten dollars. 

Soon after beginning our third year's work we 
were surprised to receive money from three special 
sources, and up to the present time we have con- 
tinued to receive help from them. First, the State 
Legislature of Alabama increased its annual appro- 
priation from two thousand dollars to three thousand 
dollars ; I might add that still later it increased this 
sum to four thousand five hundred dollars a year. 
The effort to secure this increase was led by the 


Hon. M. F. Foster, the member of the Legislature 
from Tuskegee. Second, we received one thousand 
dollars from the John F. Slater Fund. Our work 
seemed to please the trustees of this fund, as they 
soon began increasing their annual grant. This has 
been added to from time to time until at presei t we 
receive eleven thousand dollars annually from this 
Fund. The other help to which I have refi rred 
came in the shape of an allowance from the Peabody 
Fund. This was at first five hundred dollars, but it 
has since been increased to fifteen hundred dollars. 

The effort to secure help from the Slater and 
Peabody Funds brought me into contact with two 
rare men — men who have had much to do in shap- 
ing the policy for the education of the Negro. I 
refer to the Hon. J. L. M. Curry, of Washingtoi|, 
who is the general agent for these two funds, and 
Mr. Morris K. Jesup, of New York. Dr. Curry 
is a native of the South, an ex-Confederate soldier, 
yet I do not believe there is any man in the coun- 
try who is more deeply interested in the highest 
welfare of the Negro than Dr. Curry, or one who 
is more free from race prejudice. He enjoys the 
unique distinction of possessing to an equal degree 
the confidence of the black man and the Southern 
white man. I shall never forget the first time I 
met him. It was in Richmond, Va., where he was 


then living. I had heard much about him. When 
I first went into his presence, trembling because of 
my youth and inexperience, he took me by the 
hand so cordially, and spoke such encouraging 
words, and gave me such helpful advice regarding 
the proper course to pursue, that I came to know 
him then, as I have known him ever since, as a 
high example of one who is constantly and unself- 
ishly at work for the betterment of humanity. 

Mr. Morris K. Jesup, the treasurer of the Slater 
Fund, I refer to because I know of no man of wealth 
and large and complicated business responsibilities 
who gives not only money but his time and thought 
to the subject of the proper method of elevating the 
Negro to the extent that is true of Mr. Jesup. It 
is very largely through his effort arid influence that 
during the last few years the subject of industrial 
education has assumed the importance that it has, 
and been placed on its present footing. 



SOON after the opening of our boarding 
department, quite a number of students who 
evidently were worthy, but who were so poor 
that they did not have any money to pay even the 
small charges at the school, began applying for 
admission. This class was composed of both men 
and women. It was a great trial to refuse admis- 
sion to these applicants, and in 1884 we established 
a night-school to accommodate a few of them. 

The night-school was organized on a plan simi- 
lar to the one which I had helped to establish at 
Hampton. At first it was composed of about a 
dozen students. They were admitted to the night- 
school only when they had no money with which 
to pay any part of their board in the regular day- 
school. It was further required that they must 
work for ten hours during the day at some trade 
or industry, and study academic branches for two 
hours during the evening. This was the require- 
ment for the first one or two years of their stay. 



They were to be paid something above the cost of 
their board, with the understanding that all of their 
earnings, except a very small part, were to be re- 
served in the school's treasury, to be used for pay- 
ing their board in the regular day-school after they 
had entered that department. The night-school, 
started in this manner, has grown until there are 
at present four hundred and fifty-seven students 
enrolled in it alone. 

There could hardly be a more severe test of a 
student's worth than this branch of the Institute's 
work. It is largely because it furnishes such a 
good opportunity to test the backbone of a student 
that I place such high value upon our night- 
school. Any one who is willing to work ten hours 
a day at the brick-yard, or in the laundry, through 
one or two years, in order that he or she may have 
the privilege of studying academic branches for two 
hours in the evening, has enough bottom to war- 
rant being further educated. 

After the student has left the night-school he 
enters the day-school, where he takes academic 
branches four days in a week, and works at his 
trade two days. Besides this he usually works at 
his trade during the three summer months. As a 
rule, after a student has succeeded in going through 
the night-school test, he finds a way to finish the 


regular course in industrial and academic training* 
No student, no matter how much money he may 
be able to command, is permitted to go through 
school without doing manual labour. In fact,- the 
industrial work is now as popular as the academic 
branches. Some of the most successful men and 
women who have graduated from the institution 
obtained their start in the night-school. 

While a great deal of stress is laid upon the 
industrial side of the work at Tuskegee, we do 
not neglect or overlook in any degree the religious 
and spiritual side. The school is strictly unde- 
nominational, but it is thoroughly Christian, and 
the spiritual training of the students is not neg- 
lected. Our preaching service, prayer-meetings, 
Sunday-school, Christian Endeavour Society, Young 
Men's Christian Association, and various mission-' 
ary organizations, testify to this. 

In 1885, Miss Olivia Davidson, to whom I have 
already referred as being largely responsible for the 
success of the school during its early history, and I 
were married. During our married life she con- 
tinued to divide her time and strength betweea our 
home and the work for the school. She not only 
continued to work in the school at Tuskegee, but 
also kept up her habit of going North to secure 
funds. In 1889 she died, after four years of happy 


married life and eight y^ars of hjurd ^nd happy work 
ibr the sckooi. She liteiaiiy w^re herself oirt in 
her oerer ceaskg efforts in behalf of the work that 
ahe so dearly loved. During our marrbd life there 
were horn to tis two hr^ht, faeaudiiiil boya, Booker 
Taliaiferro and Ecyiest Dairidson. The older of 
these, Booker, has alneady maatered the hrick- 
raaker's trade at Tvakegee. 

[ have oAen been asked how I began the prac- 
tM3e of public speaking. In answer I would aay 
that 1 never planned to give any iarge part of my 
h& to speaking m public I have ailways had more 
•of ;aa addbotion to ^0 tbiiigs than nier<ely to talk 
akM doing dbon. It seeing that when [ went 
North Mriih Genend Armsrtrotng to speak at the 
aeries of public mefrdogs to which I have referred, 
the President of ithe National Educational Aaso- 
datioo^ itrhe Hgb. Thomaa W. Bicknell, iKas pres- 
ent at one of those meetings and heard me ap^k. 
A ^few dafs :afterwafld he :^nt f»e a^ inviftation to 
ddiver an addtiess at tdhe next meeting of the 
Bdsticational Asaooatioo. This nveetang was to he 
Ihdld tn Madison, W>is» I accepted tl^ invitation. 
This was^ in a .<sense, the beg^mung of my puhhc- 
speaking catieer. 

Dn (the enenitig that J upoke befell the Asseeiar 
tkin there must hanre been not £ir from four thour 


sand persons present. Without my knowing it, 
there were a large number of people present from 
Alabama, and some from the town of Tuskegee. 
These white people afterward frankly told me that 
they went to this meeting expecting to hear the 
South roundly abused, but were pleasantly surprised 
to find that there was no word of abuse in my address. 
On the contrary, the South was given credit for all 
the praiseworthy things that it had done. A white 
lady who was teacher in a college in Tuskegee wrote 
back to the local paper that she was gratified, as 
well as surprised, to note the credit which I gave 
the white people of Tuskegee for their help in get- 
ting the school started. This address at Madison 
was the first that I had delivered that in any large 
measure dealt with the general problem of the 
races. Those who heard it seemed to be pleased 
with what I said and with the general position that 
I took. 

When I first came to Tuskegee, I determined 
that I would make it my home, that I would take 
as much pride in the right actions of the people of 
the town as any white man could do, and that I 
would, at the same time, deplore the wrong-doing 
of the people as much as any white man. I deter- 
mined never to say anything in a public address in 
the North that I would not be willing to say in the 



South. I early learned that it is a hard matter to 
convert an individual by abusing him, and that this 
is more often accomplished by giving credit for all 
the praiseworthy actions performed than by calling 
attention alone to all the evil done. 

While pursuing this policy I have not failed, at 
the proper time and in the proper manner, to call 
attention, in no uncertain terms, to the wrongs 
which any part of the South has been guilty of. I 
have found that there is a large element in the 
South that is quick to respond to straightforward, 
honest criticism of any wrong policy. As a rule, 
the place to criticise the South, when criticism is 
necessary, is in the South — not in Boston. A 
Boston man who came to Alabama to criticise 
Boston would not effect so much good, I think, 
as one who had his word of criticism to say in 

In this address at Madison I took the ground 
that the policy to be pursued with reference to the 
races was, by every honourable means, to bring 
them together and to encourage the cultivation of 
friendly relations, instead of doing that which would 
embitter. I further contended that, in relation to 
his vote, the Negro should more and more consider 
the interests of the community in which he lived, 
rather than seek alone to please some one who 


liv^ H th^tisiinid miks away ifrom him and irom 
his tftteirestd. 

Iti this luidress I said dust the whok future oif 
dit N^o nested largely upon the question as to 
whether or not ke should m&lke hin^df, through 
his skiH, intelligence, aind character, of sudh unde- 
^liable value to the 'comnnumty in which he lived 
that the community could not dispense with his 
presence. I ^d ^that a»iy individual who learned 
to do something better than anybody else- — learned 
to do a cdmmon tlhing in ^n uncommon manner 
*— had solved his problem, regardless of the colour 
of his 'skin, and that in proportion as the Negro 
learned to produce what 'Otiher people wanted and 
musft have, in vhe same pstoportaon ^ould he l!>e 

I ^poke of an instance where one of 'Our )gradu- 
ates had produced two hundred and sixty-six 
bushels *of sweet potatoes from an acre of ground, 
in a community Where the average production had 
been only forty -*iine bushels to the acre. He 
had been able to do tMs by reason ^ his knowl- 
edge of the cheittistry ©f the soil and by his 
knowledge of improved methods of agriculture. 
The white farmers in the neighbourhood respected 
him, and came to him f&r ideas ^gardmg the rais- 
ing of sweet potatoes. Thede wfaote farmers hon- 


ouitid aud rc^spected him because he> by hi& $kUl 
asid knowledge, had added ^ojpaething tp thq wealth 
and ther comfort of the community in which he 
lived. I explained that my theoiy of education for 
the Negro would not,, for exa«vplie,, coufine him fgr 
all time to farm life — to the production pf the 
best and the most sweet potatoes^— ^but that, if 
he succeeded in this, line of industry,, he could lay 
the foundations upon which his children and graud^ 
children could grow to higher and more impoJi?taut 
things in life. 

Suchj in brief, were some of the views I advocated 
in this first address dealing with the broad question 
of the relations of the two races, and since that time 
I have not found any reason for changing my viewa 
on any important point. 

In my early life I used to cherish a feeling of ill 
will toward a;iy one who spoke in hitter terms 
against the Negro, or who advocated measures that 
tended to oppress the black man or take from him 
opportunities for growth in the most complete man- 
ner. Now, whenever J hear any one advocating 
measures that are meant to curtail the development 
of another, I pity the individual who would do this. 
I know that the one who makes this mistake does 
so because of his own lack of opportunity for the 
highest kind of growth. I pity him because I know 


that he is trying to stop the progress of the world, 
and because I know that in time the development 
and the ceaseless advance of humanity will make 
him ashamed of his weak and narrow position. 
One might as well try to stop the progress of a 
mighty railroad train by throwing his body across 
the track, as to try to stop the growth of the world 
in the direction of giving mankind more intelli- 
gence, more culture, more skill, more liberty, and in 
the direction of extending more sympathy and more 
brotherly kindness. 

The address which I delivered at Madison, before 
the National Educational Association, gave me a 
rather wide introduction in the North, and soon 
after that opportunities began offering themselves 
for me to address audiences there. 

I was anxious, however, that the way might also 
be opened for me to speak directly to a representa- 
tive Southern white audience. A partial opportu- 
nity of this kind, one that seemed to me might 
serve as an entering wedge, presented itself in 
1893, when the international meeting of Christian 
Workers was held at Atlanta, Ga. When this in- 
vitation came to me, I had engagements in Bos- 
ton that seemed to make it impossible for me to 
speak in Atlanta. Still, after looking over my list 
of dates and places carefully, I found that I could 


take a train from Boston that would get me into 
Atlanta about thirty minutes before my address was 
to be delivered, and that I could remain in that city 
about sixty minutes before taking another train for 
Boston. My invitation to speak in Atlanta stipu- 
lated that I was to confine my address to five min- 
utes. The question, then, was whether or not I 
could put enough into a five-minute address to 
make it worth while for me to make such a trip. 

I knew that the audience would be largely com- 
posed of the most influential class of white men and 
women, and that it would be a rare opportunity for 
me to let them know what we were trying to do at 
Tuskegee, as well as to speak to them about the 
relations of the races. So I decided to make the 
trip. I spoke for five minutes to an audience of 
two thousand people, composed mostly of Southern 
and Northern whites. What I said seemed to be 
received with favour and enthusiasm. The Atlanta 
papers of the next day commented in friendly terms 
on my address, and a good deal was said about it in 
different parts of the country. I felt that I had in 
some degree accomplished my object — that of get- 
ting a hearing from the dominant class of the South. 

The demands made upon me for public addresses 
continued to increase, coming in about equal num- 
bers from my own people and from Northern whites. 


I gave as mucK dme to these tddresdes at I cooid 
spare from the immediate work at Ttiskegee. Most 
of the addresses in the North were made lor the 
direct purpose of getting funds with which to 
support the school. Those delivered before the 
coloured people had for their main object the iitH 
pressing upon them of the importance of industrial 
and technical education in addition to academic and 
religious trainings 

I now come to that one of the incidents in my 
life which seems to have excited the greatest amount 
of interest^ and which perhaps went further than 
anything else in giving me a reputation that in a 
sense might be called NationaL I refer to the 
address which I delivered at the opening of the 
Atlanta Cotton states and International Exposition^ 
at Atlanta^ Ga., September i8, ^^9S' 

So much has been said and written about this 
incident, and so many questions have been asked 
me concerning the address^ that perhaps I may be 
excused for taking up the matter with some detail* 
The five-minute address in Atlanta, which I came 
from Boston to deliver, was possibly the prime 
cause for an opportunity being given me to make 
the second address there^ In the spring of 1895 I 
received a telegram from prominent citizens in 
Atlanta asking me to accompany a committee from 


that city to Waahington icMr the purpose of appear- 
ing before a committee of Congress in the interest 
of aecuriiig Government help for the Exposition. 
Th^ committee wa» composed of about twentty-five 
of the most prominent and most influential white 
nven of Geor^a* All the members of this covn- 
mittee Were white men except Bishop Grant, Bishop 
Gaines^ and myself. The Mayoir and several other 
city and state (^ctal^ spoke before the committee. 
They were followed by the two coloured bishops. 
My name was the last on the list of speakers. I 
had never before appeared before such a committee,^ 
nor had I ever delivered any address in the capital 
of the Nation. I had many misgivings as to what 
I ought to say I and as to the impression that my 
address would make« While I cannot recall in 
detail what I said^ I remember that I tried to im- 
press upon the committee^ with all the earnestness 
and plainness of any language that I could com- 
mand| that if Congress wanted to do something 
which would assist in ridding the South of the race 
question and making friends between the two races, 
it should, in every proper way, encourage the mate- 
rial and intellectual growth of both races^ I said 
that the Atlanta Exposition would present an oppor- 
tunity for both races to show what advance they 
had made since freedom, and would at the same 


time afFord encouragement to them to make still 
greater progress. 

I tried to emphasize the fact that while the Negro 
should not be deprived by unfair means of the fran- 
chise, political agitation alone would not save him, 
and that back of the ballot he must have property, 
industry, skill, economy, intelligence, and character, 
and that no race without these elements could per- 
manently succeed. I said that in granting the 
appropriation Congress could do something that 
would prove to be of real and lasting value to both 
races, and that it was the first great opportunity of 
the kind that had been presented since the close of 
the Civil War. 

I spoke for fifteen or twenty minutes, and was 
surprised at the close of my address to receive the 
hearty congratulations of the Georgia committee 
and of the members of Congress who were present. 
The Committee was unanimous in making a fa- 
vourable report, and in a few days the bill passed 
Congress. With the passing of this bill the success 
of the Atlanta Exposition was assured. 

Soon after this trip to Washington the directors 
of the Exposition decided that it would be a fitting 
recognition of the coloured race to erect a large and 
attractive building which should be devoted wholly 
to showing the progress of the Negro since freedom. 


It was further decided to have the building designed 
and erected wholly by Negro mechanics. This plan 
was carried out. In design, beauty, and general fin- 
ish the Negro Building was equal to the others on 
the grounds. 

After it was decided to have a separate Negro 
exhibit, the question arose as to who should take 
charge of it. The officials of the Exposition were 
anxious that I should assume this responsibility, 
but I declined to do so, on the plea that the work 
at Tuskegee at that time demanded my time and 
strength. Largely at my suggestion, Mr. I. Gar- 
land Penn, of Lynchburg, Va., was selected to be 
at the head of the Negro department. I gave him 
all the aid that I could. The Negro exhibit, as a 
whole, was large and creditable. The two exhibits 
in this department which attracted the greatest 
amount of attention were those from the Hampton 
Institute and the Tuskegee Institute. The people 
who seemed to be the most surprised, as well as 
pleased, at what they saw in the Negro Building 
were the Southern white people. 

As the day for the opening of the Exposition 
drew near, the Board of Directors began preparing 
the programme for the opening exercises. In the 
discussion from day to day of the various features 
of this programme, the question came up as to the 


advisakHlky of |Mibf dng a member of the Negpa race 
cm for one of the opening addresses, since thie 
Negroea had been asked to take such a prominent 
part irk the Expositkm* It was arguedy furthejr> 
that such recognition would mark the good 
feeling prevailing between the two races., Of 
course there were those who were op|K>sed to any 
such recogEutioa of the rights of the Negroni but the 
Board of Directors, composed of men who repre- 
sented the best and most progressive element in the 
South, had their way,, and voted to invite a black 
man to speak on the opening day. The next thing 
was to decide upon the person who was thus to 
represent the Negro race. After the question had 
been canvassed for several days^ the directors voted 
unanimously to ask me to deliver one of the open- 
ing-day addresses, and in a few days after that I 
received the official invitation* 

The receiving of this invitation brought to me a 
sense of responsibility that it would be hard for any 
one not placed in my position to appreciate. What 
were my feelings when this invitation came to me ? 
I remembered that I had been a slave; that my 
early years had been spent in the lowest depths of 
poverty and ignorance, and that I had had little 
opportunity to prepare me for such a responsi- 
bility as this. It was only a few years before that 


ime th^t any whke mwa in the audience nught 
have daimed me «s his slave:; ^uid it was easily 
possible that some ^ my former owners might be 
present to bear me speak. 

I knew, too, that thiis was the iirst time in the 
sntiTe bistoty »off the Negro that a member of my 
race had been asked to ^speak ifix^m the same plat- 
form with ^ite Southern men and women on any 
important National occasion. I 3«^as asked now <x> 
speak to an audience composed of the wealth and 
cukure of the white South, tflie representatives of 
my former masters, i knew, too, that while the 
^eater part of 'my iuidience woxild be composed of 
Southern people, yet tbere womld be present a large 
nu^mber of Northern whites, as weU as a great many 
men and women ^ nry own irace. 

I was determined to say nothing that I dtid not 
feel from the bottom of my heart to be true and 
right. When the invitation came to me, there was 
not one word of intSmation as to what I siho»ld say 
or as to wh^t I sfhotrld omit. In this I tfi^t that tthe 
Board of Directors had paid a tribute to me. They 
knew that by 'one sentence I :could have blasted, in 
a large degree, the success of the Exposition. I 
was also painfully conscious of the ifact that, while 
I must be true to my own race in my utterancea, I 
had it in my power to >make sucdi «n ill-timed «ad- 


dress as would result in preventing any similar 
invitation being extended to a black man again for 
years to come. I was equally determined to be 
true to the North, as well as to the best element of 
the white South, in what I had to say. 

The papers. North and South, had taken up the 
discussion of my coming speech, and as the time 
for it drew near this discussion became more and 
more widespread. Not a few of the Southern white 
papers were unfriendly to the idea of my speaking. 
From my own race I received many suggestions as 
to what I ought to say. I prepared myself as best 
I could for the address, but as the eighteenth of 
September drew nearer, the heavier my heart be- 
came, and the more I feared that my effort would 
prove a failure and a disappointment. 

The invitation had come at a time when I was 
very bus/ with my school work, as it was the be- 
ginning of our school year. After preparing my 
address, I went through it, as I usually do with all 
those utterances which I consider particularly im- 
portant, with Mrs. Washington, and she approved 
of what I intended to say. On the sixteenth of 
September, the day before I was to start for Atlanta, 
so many of the Tuskegee teachers expressed a de- 
sire to hear my address that I consented to read it 
to them in a body. When I had done so, and had 


heard their criticisms and comments, I felt some- 
what relieved, since they seemed to think well of 
what I had to say. 

On the morning of September 17, together with 
Mrs. Washington and my three children, I started 
for Atlanta. I felt a good deal as I suppose a man 
feels when he is on his way to the gallows. In 
passing through the town of Tuskegee I met a 
white farmer who lived some distance out in the 
country. In a jesting manner this man said: 
" Washington, you have spoken before the North- 
ern white people, the Negroes in the South, and 
to us country white people in the South ; but in 
Atlanta, to-morrow, you will have before you the 
Northern whites, the Southern whites, and the Ne- 
groes all together. I am afraid that you have got 
yourself into a tight place." This farmer diagnosed 
the situation correctly, but his frank words did not 
add anything to my comfort. 

In the course of the journey from Tuskegee to 
Atlanta both coloured and white people came to 
the train to point me out, and discussed with per- 
fect freedom, in my hearing, what was going to 
take place the next day. We were met by a com- 
mittee in Atlanta. Almost the first thing that I 
heard when I got off the train in that city was an 
expression something like this, from an old coloured 


imm near Iiy .: '^ Ds^*s de iiuui of my raoe what 8 
gwine to oiAke « Bpeech ^ ile ExpositiDn to-mor- 
row. I'se sho' gwine to hear him." 

AdidDta was literally packed, a£ tke time, with 
peopk tfrom all parts of this country^ jmd with 
representatives of foreign gov^tmments, as well as 
with military jud civic o]!ganizatk>ns. The after*- 
noon papers had fopecaets of the aext (day s pro- 
iieedingB in flaring keadlintes. AJi this temded to 
add to my harden. I did not «leep muck that 
night. The tne&t mocmng, hi^ore days .1 went care- 
iiiUy ovier what I intended to say. I also kneeled 
down and asked God« bkssing «ipoA my effort. 
Right here, perhaps, I ought to add that I jxulse it 
a ^nule never to go hefore .an audience, osi axiy occa- 
sion, witbout asking the blessing -of God upon what 
I wamt ito say^ 

I ah^ays make it a rule to noake ^spedal pr£|>axa* 
tion for each separate address. No two audiences 
are exactly alikis. It is my aim to reach and talk to 
the heart of each individual audience, taking it tn;to 
my confidence very much as I would a person. 
When I am speaking te aA audience, I care Uttie 
for how what I am raying is ^oing to sound in the 
newspapers, or to another <andiems^ or to an indi- 
vidual. At the time, the .audience hcfostc ,mc iib- 
sorbs all my sympathy;, thought, ^nd enea^y. 


Early in the morning a committee called to 
escort me to my place in the procession which 
was to march to the Exposition grounds. In this 
procession were prominent coloured citizens in car- 
riages, as well as several Negro military organiza- 
tions. I noted that the Exposition officials seemed 
to go out of their way to see that all of the coloured 
people in the procession were properly placed and 
properly treated. The procession was about three 
hours in reaching the Exposition grounds, and dur- 
ing all of this time the sun was shining down upon 
us disagreeably hot. When we reached the grounds, 
the heat, together with my nervous anxiety, made 
me feel as if I were about ready to collapse, and to 
feel that my address was not going to be a success. 
When I entered the audience-room, I found it 
packed with humanity from bottom to top, and 
there were thousands outside who could not get in. 

The room was very large, and well suited to pub- 
lic speaking. When I entered the room, there were 
vigorous cheers from the coloured portion of the 
audience, and faint cheers from some of the white 
people. I had been told, while I had been in 
Atlanta, that while many white people were going 
to be present to hear me speak, simply out of 
curiosity, and that others who would be present 
would be in full sympathy with me, there was 


a still larger element of the audience which would 
consist of those who were going to be present for 
the purpose of hearing me make a fool of myself, 
or, at least, of hearing me say some foolish thing, 
so that they cpuld say to the officials who had 
invited me to speak, "I told you so!" 

One of the trustees of the Tuskegee Institute, as 
well as my personal friend, Mr. William H. Bald- 
win, Jr. was at the time General Manager of the 
Southern Railroad, and happened to be in Atlanta 
on that day. He was so nervous about the kind 
of reception that I would have, and the effect that 
my speech would produce, that he could not per- 
suade himself to go into the building, but walked 
back and forth in the grounds outside until the 
opening exercises were over. 



THE Atlanta Exposition, at which I had 
been asked to make an address as a repre- 
sentative of the Negro race, as stated in 
the last chapter, was opened with a short address 
from Governor Bullock. After other interesting 
exercises, including an invocation from Bishop Nel- 
son, of Georgia, a dedicatory ode by Albert Howell, 
Jr., and addresses by the President of the Exposi- 
tion and Mrs. Joseph Thompson, the President of 
the Woman's Board, Governor Bullock introduced 
me with the words, "We have with us to-day a 
representative of Negro enterprise and Negro civili- 

When I arose to speak, there was considerable 
cheering, especially from the coloured people. As 
I remember it now, the thing that was uppermost 
in my mind was the desire to say something that 
would cement the friendship of the races and bring 
about hearty cooperation between them. So far as 
my outward surroundings were concerned, the only 



thing that I recall distinctly now is that when I got 
up, I saw thousands of eyes looking intently into 
my face. The following is the address which I 
delivered : — 

Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Board 
OF Directors and Citizens. 

One-third of the population of the South is of 
the Negro race. No enterprise seeking the mate- 
rial, civil, or moral welfare of this section can disre- 
gard this element of our population and reach the 
highest success. I but convey to you, Mr. Presi- 
dent and Directors, the sentiment of the masses of 
my race when I say that in no way have the value 
and manhood of the American Negro been more 
fittingly and generously recognized than by the 
managers of this magnificent Exposition at every 
stage of its progress. It is a recognition that will 
do more to cement the friendship of the two races 
than any occurrence since the dawn of our freedom. 

Not only this, but the opportunity here afiForded 
will awaken among us a new era of industrial prog- 
ress. Ignorant and inexperienced, it is not strange 
that in the first years of our new life we began at 
the top instead of at the bottom ; that a seat in 
Congress or the state legislature was more sought 
than real estate or industrial skill ; that the political 


convention or stump speaking had more attractions 
than starting a dairy farm or truck garden. 

A ship lost at sea for many days suddenly sighted 
a friendly vessel. From the mast of the unfortu- 
nate vessel was seen a signal, "Water, water; we 
die of thirst ! " The answer from the friendly ves- 
sel at once came back, "Cast down your bucket 
where you are.'* A second time the signal, "Water, 
water ; send us water ! " ran up from the distressed 
vessel, and was answered, " Cast down your bucket 
where you are." And a third and fourth signal for 
water was answered, " Cast down your bucket where 
you are." The captain of the distressed vessel, at 
last heeding the injunction, cast down his bucket, 
and it came up full of fresh, sparkling water from 
the mouth of the Amazon River. To those of my 
race who depend on bettering their condition in a 
foreign land or who underestimate the importance 
of cultivating friendly relations with the Southern 
white man, who is their next-door neighbour, I would 
say : " Cast down your bucket where you are " — 
cast it down in making friends in every manly way 
of the people of all races by whom we are surrounded. 

Cast it down in agriculture, mechanics, in com- 
merce, in domestic service, and in the professions. 
And in this connection it is well to bear in mind 
that whatever other sins the South may be called to 


bear, when it comes to business, pure and simple, it 
is in the South that the Negro is given a man's 
chance in the commercial world, and in nothing is 
this Exposition more eloquent than in emphasizing 
this chance. Our greatest danger is that in the great 
leap from slavery to freedom we may overlook the 
fact that the masses of us are to live by the produc- 
tions of our hands, and fail to keep in mind that we 
shall prosper in proportion as we learn to dignify 
and glorify common labour and put brains and skill 
into the common occupations of life ; shall prosper 
in proportion as we learn to draw the line between 
the superficial and the substantial, the ornamental 
gewgaws of life and the useful. No race can pros- 
per till it learns that there is as much dignity in 
tilling a field as in writing a poem. It is at the bot- 
tom of life we must begin, and not at the top. Nor 
should we permit our grievances to overshadow our 

To those of the white race who look to the incom- 
ing of those of foreign birth and strange tongue and 
habits for the prosperity of the South, were I per- 
mitted I would repeat what I say to my own race, 
" Cast down your bucket where you are." Cast it 
down among the eight millions of Negroes whose 
habits you know, whose fidelity and love you have 
tested in days when to have proved treacherous 


meant the ruin of your firesides. Cast down your 
bucket among these people who have, without 
strikes and labour wars, tilled your fields, cleared 
your forests, builded your railroads and cities, and 
brought forth treasures from the bowels of the earth, 
and helped make possible this magnificent represen- 
tation of the progress of the South. Casting down 
your bucket among my people, helping and encour- 
aging them as you are doing on these grounds, and 
to education of head, hand, and heart, you will find 
that they will buy your surplus land, make blossom 
the waste places in your fields, and run your facto- 
ries. While doing this, you can be sure in the 
future, as in the past, that you and your families 
will be surrounded by the most patient, faithful, 
law-abiding, and unresentful people that the world 
has seen. As we have proved our loyalty to you 
in the past, in nursing your children, watching by 
the sick-bed of your mothers and fathers, and often 
following them with tear-dimmed eyes to their graves, 
so in the future, in our humble way, we shall stand 
by you with a devotion that no foreigner can ap- 
proach, ready to lay down our lives, if need be, in 
defence of yours, interlacing our industrial, commer- 
cial, civil, and religious life with yours in a way that 
shall make the interests of both races one. In all 
things that are purely social we can bs as separate 


as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things 
essential to mutual progress. 

There is no defence or security for any of us ex- 
cept in the highest intelligence and development of 
all. If anywhere there are efforts tending to curtail 
the fullest growth of the Negro, let these efforts be 
turned into stimulating, encouraging, and making 
him the most useful and intelligent citizen. Effort 
or means so invested will pay a thousand per cent 
interest. These efforts will be twice blessed — 
"blessing him that gives and him that takes.** 

There is no escape through law of man or God 
from the inevitable : — 

The laws of changeless jusdce bind 

Oppressor with oppressed ; 
And close as sin and suffering joined 

We march to &te abreast. 

Nearly sixteen millions of hands will aid you in 
pulling the load upward, or they will pull against 
you the load downward. We shall constitute one- 
third and more of the ignorance and crime of the 
South, or one-third its intelligence and progress ; 
we shall contribute one-third to the business and 
industrial prosperity of the South, or we shall prove 
a veritable body of death, stagnating, depressing, 
retarding every effort to advance the body politic. 



Gentlemen of the Exposition, as we present to 
you our humble eiFort at an exhibition of our prog- 
ress, you must not expect overmuch. Starting thirty 
years ago with ownership here and there in a few 
quilts and pumpkins and chickens (gathered from 
miscellaneous sources), remember the path that has 
led from these to the inventions and production 
of agricultural implements, buggies, steam-engines, 
newspapers, books, statuary, carving, paintings, the 
management of drug-stores and banks, has not been 
trodden without contact with thorns and thistles. 
While we take pride in what we exhibit as a result 
of our independent efforts, we do not for a moment 
forget that our part in this exhibition would fall far 
short of your expectations but for the constant help 
that has come to our educational life, not only from 
the Southern states, but especially from Northern 
philanthropists, who have made their gifts a constant 
stream of blessing and encouragement. 

The wisest among my race understand that the 
agitation of questions of social equality is the ex- 
tremcst folly, and that progress in the enjoyment 
of all the privileges that will come to us must be 
the result of severe and constant struggle rather 
than of artificial forcing. No race that has any- 
thing to contribute to the markets of the world is 
long in any degree ostracized. It is important and 


right that all privileges of the law be ours, but it is 
vastly more important that we be prepared for the 
exercises of these privileges. The opportunity to 
earn a dollar in a factory just now is worth infinitely 
more than the opportunity to spend a dollar in an 

In conclusion, may I repeat that nothing in thirty 
years has given us more hope and encouragement, 
and drawn us so near to you of the white race, as 
this opportunity offered by the Exposition ; and 
here bending, as it were, over the altar that repre- 
sents the results of the struggles of your race and 
mine, both starting practically empty-handed three 
decades ago, I pledge that in your effort to work 
out the great and intricate problem which God has 
laid at the doors of the South, you shall have at all 
times the patient, sympathetic help of my race; 
only let this be constantly in mind, that, while from 
representations in these buildings of the product of 
field, of forest, of mine, of factory, letters, and art, 
much good will come, yet far above and beyond 
material benefits will be that higher good, that, let 
us pray God, will come, in a blotting out of sec- 
tional differences and racial animosities and sus- 
picions, in a determination to administer absolute 
justice, in a willing obedience among all classes to 
the mandates of law. This, this, coupled with our 


material prosperity, will bring into our beloved 
South a new heaven and a new earth. 

The first thing that I remember, after I had fin- 
ished speaking, was that Governor Bullock rushed 
across the platfi^rm and took me by the hand, and 
that others did the same. I received so many and 
such hearty congratulations that I fiDund it difficult 
to get out of the building. I did not appreciate to 
any degree, however, the impression which my 
address seemed to have made, until the next morn- 
ing, when I went into the business part of the city. 
As soon as I was recognized, I was surprised to 
find myself pointed out and surrounded by a crowd 
of men who wished to shake hands with me. This 
was kept up on every street on to which I went, to 
an extent which embarrassed me so much that I 
went back to my boarding-place. The next morn- 
ing I returned to Tuskegee. At the station in 
Atlanta, and at almost all of the stations at which 
the train stopped betweeo that city and Tuskegee, 
I found a crowd of people anxious to shake hands 
with me. 

The papers in all parts of the United States pub- 
lished the address in fiill, and for months afterward 
there were complimentary editorial references to it. 
Mr. Clark Howell, the editor of the Atlanta Con- 


stitutiony telegraphed to a New York paper, among 
other words, the following, " I do not exaggerate 
when I say that Professor Booker T. Washington's 
address yesterday was one of the most notable 
speeches, both as to character and as to the 
warmth of its reception, ever delivered to a South- 
ern audience. The address was a revelation. The 
whole speech is a platform upon which blacks 
and whites can stand with full justice to each 
other." ^ 

The Boston Transcript said editorially: "The 
speech of Booker T. Washington at the Atlanta 
Exposition, this week, seems to have dwarfed all 
the other proceedings and the Exposition itself. 
The sensation that it has caused in the press has 
never been equalled." 

I very soon began receiving all kinds of proposi- 
tions from lecture bureaus, and editors of magazines 
and papers, to take the lecture platform, and to 
write articles. One lecture bureau offered me fifty 
thousand dollars, or two ^hundred dollars a night 
and expenses, if I would place my services at its 
disposal for a given period. To all these commu- 
nications I replied that my life-work was at Tuske- 
gee ; and that whenever I spoke it must be in the 
interests of the Tuskegee school and my race, 
and that I would enter into no arrangements that 


seemed to place a mere commercial value upon m] 

Some days after its delivery I sent a copy of my 
address to the President of the United States, the 
Hon. Grover Cleveland. I received from him the 
following autograph reply : — 

Gray Gables, Buzzard's Bay, Mass. 9 

October 6, 1895. 

BooiCER T. Washington, Esq. : 

My Dear Sir : I thank you for sending me a copy of 
your address delivered at the Atlanta Exposition. 

I thank you with much enthusiasm for making the ad- 
dress. I have read it with intense interest, and I think 
the Exposition would be fully justified if it did not do more 
than furnish the opportunity for its delivery. Your words 
cannot fail to delight and encourage all who wish well for 
your race ; and if our coloured fellow-citizens do not from 
your utterances gather new hope and form new determina- 
tions to gain every valuable advantage offered them by their 
citizenship, it will be strange indeed. 

Yours very truly, 

Grover Cleveland. 

Later I met Mr. Cleveland, for the first time, 
when, as President, he visited the Atlanta Exposi- 
tion. At the request of myself and others he con- 
sented to spend an hour in the Negro Building, for 
the purpose of inspecting the Negro exhibit and of 


giving the coloured people in attendance an oppor- 
tunity to shake hands with him. As soon as I met 
Mr. Cleveland I became impressed with his sim- 
plicity, greatness, and rugged honesty. I have met 
him many times since then, both at public functions 
and at his private residence in Princeton, and the 
more I see of him the more I admire him. When 
he visited the Negro Building in Atlanta he seemed 
to give himself up wholly, for that hour, to the 
coloured people. He seemed to be as careful to 
shake hands with some old coloured " auntie " clad 
partially in rags, and to take as much pleasure in 
doing so, as if he were greeting some million naire. 
Many of the coloured people took advantage of the 
occasion to get him to write his name in a book or 
on a slip of paper. He was as careful and patient 
in doing this as if he were putting his signature to 
some great state document. 

Mr. Cleveland has not only shown his friendship 
for me in many personal ways, but has always con- 
sented to do anything I have asked of him for our 
school. This he has done, whether it was to make 
a personal donation or to use his influence in secur- 
ing the donations of others. Judging from my per- 
sonal acquaintance with Mr. Cleveland, I do not 
believe that he is conscious of possessing any colour 
prejudice. He is too great for that. In my con- 


tact with people I find that, as a rule, it is only the 
little, narrow people who live for themselves, who 
never read good books, who do not travel, who 
never open up their souls in a way to permit them 
to come into contact with other souls — with the 
great outside world. No man whose vision is 
bounded by colour can come into contact with what 
is highest and best in the world. In meeting men, 
in many places, I have found that the happiest peo- 
ple are those who do the most for others ; the most 
miserable are those who do the least. I have also 
found that few things, if any, are capable of making 
one so blind and narrow as race prejudice. I often 
say to our students, in the course of my talks to 
them on Sunday evenings in the chapel, that the 
longer I live and the more experience I have of 
the world, the more I am convinced that, after all, 
the one thing that is most worth living for — and 
dying for, if need be — is the opportunity of mak- 
ing some one else more happy and more useful. 

The coloured people and the coloured newspapers 
at first seemed to be greatly pleased with the charac- 
ter of my Atlanta address, as well as with its recep- 
tion. But after the first burst of enthusiasm began 
to die away, and the coloured people began reading 
the speech in cold type, some of them seemed to 
feel that they had been hypnotized. They seemed 


to feel that I had been too liberal in my remarks 
toward the Southern whites, and that I had not 
spoken out strongly enough for what they termed 
the " rights " of the race. For a whilf there was a 
reaction, so far as a certain element of my own race 
was concerned, but later these reactionary ones 
seemed to have been won over to my way of be- 
lieving and acting. 

While speaking of changes in public sentiment, I 
recall that about ten years after the school at Tuske- 
gee was established, I had an experience that I shall 
never forget. Dr. Lyman Abbott, then the pastor 
of Plymouth Church, and also editor of the Outlook 
(then the Christian Union), asked me to write a let- 
ter for his paper giving my opinion of the exact 
condition, mental and moral, of the coloured minis- 
ters in the South, as based upon my observations. 
I wrote the letter, giving the exact facts as I con- 
ceived them to be. The picture painted was a 
rather black one — or, since I am black, shall I say 
"white"? It could not be otherwise with a race 
but a few years out of slavery, a race which had not 
had time or opportunity to produce a competent 

What I said soon reached every Negro minister 
in the country, I think, and the letters of condem- 
nation which I received from them were not few. 


I think that for a year after the publication of this 
article every association and every conference or 
religious body of any kind, of my race, that met, 
did not fail before adjourning to pass a resolution 
condemning me, or calling upon me to retract or 
modify what I had said. Many of these organiza- 
tions went so far in their resolutions as to advise 
parents to cegse sending their children to Tuskegee. 
One association even appointed a *' missionary " 
whose duty it was to warn the people against send- 
ing their children to Tuskegee. This missionary 
had a son in the school, and I noticed that, what- 
ever the *^ missionary " might have said or done 
with regard to others, he was careful not to take 
his son away from the institution. Many of the 
coloured papers, especially those that were the 
organs of religious bodies, joined in the general 
chorus of condemnation or demands for retraction. 
During the whole time of the excitement, and 
through all the criticism, I did not utter a word of 
explanation or retraction. I knew that I was right, 
and that time and the sober second thought of the 
people would vindicate me. It was not long before 
the bishops and other church leaders began to make 
a careful investigation of the conditions of the min- 
istry, and they found out that I was right. In fact, 
the oldest and most influential bishop in one branch 


of the Methodist Church said that my wprds were 
far too mild. Very soon public sentiment began 
making itself felt, in demanding a purifying of the 
ministry. While this is not yet complete by any 
means, I think I may say, without egotism, and I 
have been told by many of our most influential 
ministers, that my words had much to do with start- 
ing a demand for the placing of a higher type of 
men in the pulpit. I have had the satisfaction of 
having many who once condemned me thank me 
heartily for my frank words. 

The change of the attitude of the Negro minis- 
try, so far as regards myself. Is so complete that at 
the present time I have no warmer friends among 
any class than I have among the clergymen. The 
improvement in the character and life of the Negro 
ministers is one of the most gratifying evidences of 
the progress of the race. My experience with them, 
as well as other events in my life, convince me that 
the thing to do, when one feels sure that he has said 
or done the right thing, and is condemned, is to 
stand still and keep quiet. If he is right, time will 
show it. 

In the midst of the discussion which was going on 
concerning my Atlanta speech, I received the letter 
which I give below, from Dr. Gilman, the President 
of Johns Hopkins University, who had been made 


chairman of the judges of award In connection with 
the Atlanta Exposition : — 

Johns Hopkins UNivERsmr, Baltimore, 
President's Office, September 30, 1895. 

Dear Mr. Washington: Would it be agreeable to 

you to be one of the Judges of Award in the Department 

of Education at Atlanta ? If so, I shall be glad to place 

your name upon the list. A line by telegraph will be 


Yours very truly,' 

D. C. Oilman. 

I think I was even more surprised to receive this 
invitation than I had been to receive the invitation 
to speak at the opening of the Exposition. It was 
to be a part of my duty, as one of the jurors, to 
pass not only upon the exhibits of the coloured 
schools, but also upon those of the white schools. 
I accepted the position, and spent a month in 
Atlanta in performance of the duties which it en- 
tailed. The board of jurors was a large one, con- 
sisting in all of sixty members. It was about 
equally divided between Southern white people 
and Northern white people. Among them were 
college presidents, leading scientists and men of 
letters, and specialists in many subjects. When 
tiiQ group of jurors to which I was assigned met 
fo! organization, Mr. Thomas Nelson Page, who 



was one of the number, moved that I be made 
secretary of that division, and the motion was 
unanimously adopted. Nearly half of our divi- 
sion were Southern people. In performing my 
duties in the inspection of the exhibits of white 
schools I was in every case treated with respect, 
and at the close of our labours I parted from my 
associates with regret, 

I am often asked to express myself more freely 
than I do upon the political condition and the 
political future of my race. These recollections 
of my experience in Atlanta give me the opportu- 
nity to do so briefly. My own belief is, although 
I have never before said so in so many words, that 
the time will come when the Negro in the South 
will be accorded all the political rights which his 
ability, character, and material possessions entitle 
him to. I think, though, that the opportunity to 
freely exercise such political rights will not come in 
any large degree through outside or artificial forc- 
ing, but will be accorded to the Negro by the 
Southern white people themselves, and that they 
will protect him in the exercise of those rights. 
Just as soon as the South get8 over the old feeling 
that it is being forced by "foreigners," or "aliens," 
to do something which it does not want to do, I 
believe that the change in the direction that I have 


indicated is going to begin. In fact, there are in^ 
dications that it is already beginning in a slight 

Let me illustrate my meaning. Suppose that 
some months before the opening of the Atlanta 
Exposition there had been a general demand from 
the press and public platform outside the South 
that a Negro be given a place on the opening pro- 
gramme, and that a Negro be placed upon the 
board of jurors of award. Would any such recog- 
nition of the race have taken place ? I do not 
think so. The Atlanta officials went as far as they 
did because they felt it to be a pleasure, as well as 
a duty, to reward what they considered merit irt 
the Negro race. Say what we will, there is some- 
thing in human nature which we cannot blot out, 
which makes one man, in the end, recognize and 
reward merit in another, regardless of colour or 

I believe it is the duty of the Negro — as the 
greater part of the race is already doing — to deport 
himself modestly in regard to political claims, de- 
pending upon the slow but sure influences that 
proceed from the possession of property, intelli- 
gence, and high character for the full recognition 
of his political rights. I think that the according 
of the full exercise of political rights is going to be 


a matter of natural, slow growth, not an over-night, 
gourd- vine affair. I do not believe that the Negro 
should cease voting, for a man cannot learn the 
exercise of self-government by ceasing to vote, any 
more than a boy can learn to swim by keeping out 
of the water, but I do believe that in his voting he 
should more and more be influenced by those of 
intelligence and character who are his next-door 

I know coloured men who, through the encour- 
agement, help, and advice of Southern white peop)e, 
have accumulated thousands of dollars' worth of 
property, but who, at the same time, would never 
think of going to those same persons for advice 
concerning the casting of their ballots. This, it 
seems to me, is unwise and unreasonable, and 
should cease. In saying this I do not mean that 
the Negro should truckle, or not vote from princi- 
ple, for the instant he ceases to vote from principle 
he loses the confidence and respect of the Southern 
white man even. 

I do not believe that any state should make a 
law that permits an ignorant and poverty-stricken 
white man to vote, and prevents a black man in the 
same condition from voting. Such a law is not 
only unjust, but it will react, as all unjust laws do, 
in time ; for the eflTect of such a law is to encourage 


the Negro to secure education and property, and at 
the same time it encourages the white man to re- 
main in ignorance and poverty. I believe that in 
time, through the operation of intelligence and 
friendly race relations, all cheating at the ballot- 
box in the South will cease. It will become appar- 
ent that the white man who begins by cheating a 
Negro out of his ballot soon learns to cheat a white 
man out of his, and that the man who does this 
ends his career of dishonesty by the theft of prop- 
erty or by some equally serious crime. In my 
opinion, the time will come when the South will 
encourage all of its citizens to vote. It will see 
that it pays better, from every standpoint, to have 
healthy, vigorous life than to have that political 
stagnation which always results when one-half of 
the population has no share and no interest in the 

As a rule, I believe in universal, free suffrage, - 
but I believe that in the South we are confronted 
with peculiar conditions that justify the protection 
of the ballot in many of the states, for a while at 
least, either by an educational test, a property test, 
or by both combined; but whatever tests are re- 
quired, they should be made to apply with equal 
and exact justice to both races. 



AS to how my address at Atlanta was received 
by the audience in the Exposition building, 
'• I think I prefer to let Mr. James Creelman, 
the noted war correspondent, tell. Mr. Creelman 
was present, and telegraphed the following account 
to the New York fVorld: — 

Atlanta, September i8« 

While President Cleveland was waiting at Gray Gables 
to-day, to send the electric spark that started the machin- 
ery of the Atlanta Exposition, a Negro Moses stood before 
a great audience of white people atid delivered an oration 
that marks a new epoch in the history of the South ; and 
a body of Negro troops marched in a procession with the 
citizen soldiery of Georgia and Louisiana. The whole city 
is thrilling to-night with a realization of the extraordinary 
significance of these two unprecedented events. Nothing 
has happened since Henry Grady's immortal speech before 
the New England society in New York that indicates so 
profoundly the spirit of the New South, except, perhaps 
the opening of the Exposition itself. 


When Professor Booker T. Washington, Principal of 
an industrial school for coloured people in Tuskegee, Ala 
stood on the platform of the Auditorium, with the sun 
shining over the heads of his auditors into his eyes, and 
with his whole face lit up with the fire of prophecy, Clark 
Howell, the successor of Henry Grady, said to me, '' That 
man's speech is the beginning of a moral revolution in 

It is the first time that a Negro has made a speech in 
the South on any important occasion before an audience 
composed of white men and wotnen. It electrified the 
audience, and the response was as if it had come from the 
throat of a whirlwind. 

Mrs. Thompson had hardly taken her seat when all eyes 
Were turned on a tall tawny Negro sitting in the front row 
of the platform. It was Professor Booker T. Washington, 
President of the Tuskegee (Alabama) Normal and Indus- 
trial Institute, who must rank frotn this time forth as the 
foremost man of his race in America. Gilrtiore's Band 
played the " Star-Spangled Banner," and the audience 
cheered. The tune changed to " Dixie " and the audience 
roared with shrill "hi^yis." .Again the music changed, this 
time to " Yankee Doodle," and the clamour lessened. 

All this time the eyes of the thousands present looked 
straight at the Negro orator. A strange thing was to hap- 
pen. A black man was to speak for his people, with none 
to interrupt him. As Professor Washington strode to the 
edge of the stage, the low, descending sun shot fiery rays 
through the windows into his face. A great shout greeted 
him. He turned his head to avoid the blinding light, and 
moved about the platform for relief. Then he turned his 


wonderful countenance to the sun without a blink of the 
eyelids, and began to talk. 

There was a remarkable figure ; tall, bony, straight as a 
Sioux chief, high forehead, straight nose, heavy jaws, and 
strong, determined mouth, with big white teeth, piercing 
eyes, and a commanding manner. The sinews stood out 
on his bronzed neck, and his muscular right arm swung 
high in the air, with a lead-pencil grasped in the clinched 
brown fist. His big feet were planted squarely, with the 
heels together and the toes turned out. His voice rang 
out clear and true, and he paused impressively as he made 
each point. Within ten minutes the multitude was in an 
uproar of enthusiasm — handkerchiefs were waved, canes 
were flourished, hats were tossed in the air. The fairest 
women of Georgia stood up and cheered. It was as if the 
orator had bewitched them. 

And when he held his dusky hand high above his head, 
with the fingers stretched wide apart, and said to the white 
people of the South on behalf of his race, ^^ In all things 
that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, 
yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual prog- 
ress," the great wave of sound dashed itself against the 
walls, and the whole audience was on its feet in a delirium 
of applause, and I thought at that moment of the night 
when Henry Grady stood among the curling wreaths of 
tobacco-smoke in Delmonico's banquet-hall and said, ^^ I 
am a Cavalier among Roundheads.'' 

I have heard the great orators of many countries, but 
not even Gladstone himself could have pleaded a cause 
with more consummate power than did this angular Negro, 
standing in a nimbus of sunshine, surrounded by the men 


who once fought to keep his race in bondage. The roar 
might swell ever so high, but the expression of his earnest 
face never changed. 

A ragged, ebony giant, squatted on the floor in one of 
the aisles, watched the orator with burning eyes and trem- 
ulous face until the supreme burst of applause came, and 
then the tears ran down his face. Most of the Negroes in 
the audience were crying, perhaps without knowing just 

At the close of the speech Governor Bullock rushed 
across the stage and seized the orator's hand. Another 
shout greeted this demonstration, and for a few minutK^ 
the two men stood facing each other, hand in hand. 

So far as I could spare the time from the imme- 
diate work at Tuskegee, after my Atlanta address, I 
accepted some of the invitations to speak in public 
which came to me, especially those that would take 
me into territory where I thought it would pay to 
plead the cause of my race, but I always did this 
with the understanding that I was to be free to talk 
about my life-work and the needs of my people. 
I also had it understood that I was not to speak in 
the capacity of a professional lecturer, or for mere 
commercial gain. 

In my efforts on the public platform I never have 
been able to understand why people come to hear 
me speak. This question I never can rid myself 
of. Time and time again, as I have stood in the 


street in front of a building and have seen men and 
women passing in large numbers into the audience- 
room where I was to speak, I have felt ashamed 
that I should be the cause of people — as it seemed 
to me — wasting a valuable hour of time. Some 
years ago I was to deliver an address before a liter- 
ary society in Madison, Wis. An hour before 
the time set for me to speak, a fierce snow-storm 
began, and continued for several hours. I made up 
my mind that there would be no audience, and that 
I should not have to speak, but, as a matter of duty, 
I went to the church, and found it packed with peo- 
ple. The surprise gave me a shock that I did not 
recover from during the whole evening. 

People often ask me if I feel nervous before 
speaking, or else they suggest that, since I speak so 
often, they suppose that I get used to it. In answer 
to this question I have to say that I always suffer 
intensely from nervousness before speaking. More 
than once, just before I was to make an important 
address, this nervous strain has been so great that 
I have resolved never again to speak in public. I 
not only feel nervous before speaking, but after I 
have finished I usually feel a sense of regret, because 
it seems to me as if I had left out of my address the 
main thing and the best thing that I had meant to say. 

There is a great compensation, though, for this 


preliminary nervous suffering, that comes to me 
after I have been speaking for about ten minutes, 
and have come to feel that I have really mastered 
my audience, and that we have gotten into full and 
complete sympathy with each other. It seems to me 
that there is rarely such a combination of mental and 
physical delight in any effort as that which comes to 
a public speaker when he feels that he has a great 
audience completely within his control. There is a 
thread of sympathy and oneness that connects a pub- 
lic speaker with his audience, that is just as strong as 
though it was something tangible and visible. If 
in an audience of a thousand people there is one 
person who is not in sympathy with my views, or 
is inclined to be doubtful, cold, or critical, I can 
pick him out. When I have found him I usually 
go straight at him, and it is a great satisfaction to 
watch the process of his thawing out. I find that 
the most effective medicine for such individuals is 
administered at first in the form of a story, although 
I never tell an anecdote simply for the sake of tell- 
ing one. That kind of thing, I think, is empty and 
hollow, and an audience soon finds it out. 

I believe that one always does himself and his 
audience an injustice when he speaks merely for the 
sake of speaking. I do not believe that one should 
speak unless, deep down in his heart, he feels con- 


vinced that he has a message to deliver. When 
one feels, from the bottom of his feet to the top of 
his head, that he has something to say that is going 
to help some individual or some cause, then let him 
say it ; and in delivering his message I do not 
believe that many of the artificial rules of elocution 
can, under such circumstances, help him very much. 
Although there are certain things, such as pauses, 
breathing, and pitch of voice, that are very impor- 
tant, none of these can take the place of soul in an 
address. When I have an address to deliver, I like 
to forget all about the rules for the proper use of 
the English language, and all about rhetoric and 
that sort of thing, and I like to make the audience 
forget all about these things, too. 

Nothing tends to throw me off my balance so 
quickly, when I am speaking, as to have some one 
leave the room. To prevent this, I make up my 
mind, as a rule, that I will try to make my address 
so interesting, will try to state so many interesting 
facts one after another, that no one can leave. The 
average audience, I have come to believe, wants 
facts rather than generalities or sermonizing. Most 
people, I think, arc able to draw proper conclusions 
if they are given the facts in an interesting form on 
which to base them. 

As to the kind of audience that I like best to 


talk to, I would put at the top of the list an organi- 
zation of strong, wide-awake, business men, such, 
for example, as is found in Boston, New York, Chi- 
cago, and Buffalo. I have found no other audience 
so quick to see a point, and so responsive. Within 
the last few years I have had the privilege of speak- 
ing before most of the leading organizations of this 
kind in the large cities of the United States. The 
best time to get hold of an organization of business 
men is after a good dinner, although I think that 
one of the worst instruments of torture that was 
ever invented is the custom which makes it neces- 
sary for a speaker to sit through a fourteen-course 
dinner, every minute of the time feeling sure that 
his speech is going to prove a dismal failure and 

I rarely take part in one of these long dinners 
that I do not wish that I could put myself back in 
the little cabin where I was a slave boy, and again 
go through the experience there — one that I shall 
never forget — of getting molasses to eat once a 
week from the "big house." Our usual diet ou 
the plantation was corn bread and pork, but on 
Sunday morning my mother was permitted to bring 
down a little molasses from the " big house " for her 
three children, and when it was received how I did 
wish that every day was Sunday ! I would get my 


tin plate and hold it up for the sweet morsel, but 1 
would always shut my eyes while the molasses was 
being poured out into the plate, with the hope that 
when I opened them I would be surprised to see 
how much I had got. When I opened my eyes I 
would tip the plate in one direction and another, so 
as to make the molasses spread all over it, in the 
full belief that there would be more of it and that it 
would last longer if spread out in this way. So 
strong are my childish impressions of those Sunday 
morning feasts that it would be pretty hard for any 
one to convince me that there is not more molasses 
on a plate when it is spread all over the plate than 
when it occupies a little corner — if there is a corner 
in a plate. At any rate, I have never believed in 
"cornering" syrup. My share of the syrup was 
usually about two tablespoonfuls, and those two 
spoonfuls of molasses were much more enjoyable to 
me than is a fourteen-course dinner after which I 
am to speak. 

Next to a company of business men, I prefer to 
speak to an audience of Southern people, of either 
race, together or taken separately. Their enthusi- 
asm and responsiveness are a constant delight. The 
**amens" and "dat's de truf" that come spontane- 
ously from the coloured individuals are calculated to 
spur any speaker on to his best efforts. I think 


thit next in order of preference I would place a 
college audience. It has been my privilege to 
ddiver addressed at many of our leading colleges, 
including Harvard, Yale, Williams, Amherst, Fisk 
University, the University of Pennsylvania, Welles- 
ley, the University of Michigan, Trinity College in 
North Carolina, and many others. 

It has been a matter of deep interest to me to 
note the number of people who have come to shake 
hands with me after an address, who say that this 
is the first time they have ever called a Negro 
« Mister." 

When speaking directly in the interests' of the 
Tuskegee Institute, I usually arrange, some time in 
advance, a series of meetings in important centres* 
This takes me befdre churches, Sunday-schools, 
Christian Endeavour Societies, and men's and 
women's clubs* When doing this I sometimes 
speak before as many as four organizations in a 
single day. 

Three years ago, at the suggestion of Mr. Morris 
K. Jesup, of New York, and Dr. J. L. M. Curry, the 
general agent of the fimd, the trustees of the John 
F. Slater Fund voted a sum of money to be used 
in paying the expenses of Mrs. Washington and 
myself while holding a series of meetings among 
the coloured people in the large centres of Negro 


population, especially in the large cities of the 
ex-slaveholding states. Each year during the last 
three years we have devoted some weeks to this 
work. The plan that we have followed has been 
for me to speak in the morning to the ministers, 
teachers, and professional men. In the afternoon 
Mrs. Washington would speak to the women alone, 
and in the evening I spoke to a large mass-meet* 
ing. In almost every case the meetings have been 
attended not only by the coloured people in large 
numbers, but by the white people. In Chatta- 
nooga, Tenn., for example, there was present at 
the mass-meeting an audience of not less than three 
thousand persons, and I was informed that eight 
hundred of these were white. I have done no work 
that I really enjoyed more than this, or that I think 
has accomplished more good. 

These meetings have given Mrs. Washington 
and myself an opportunity to get first-hand, accu- 
rate information as to the real condition of the race, 
by seeing the people in their homes, their churches, 
their Sunday-schools, and their places of work, as 
well as in the prisons and dens of crime. These 
meetings also gave us an opportunity to see the 
relations that exist between the races. I never feel 
so hopeful about the race as I do after being 
engaged in a series of these meetings. I know that 


such occasions there is much that comes to the 
su^ace that is superficial and deceptive^ but I have 
had experience enough not to be deceived by mere 
signs and fleeting enthusiasms. I have taken pains 
to go to the bottom of things and get facts, in a 
cold, business-like manner. 

I have seen the statement made lately, by one 
who claims to know what he is talking about, that, 
taking the whole Negro race into account, ninety 
per cent of the Negro women are not virtuous. 
There never was a baser falsehood uttered concern- 
ing a race, or a statement made that was less capable 
of being proved by actual facts. 

No one can come into contact with the race for 
twenty years, as I have done in the heart of the 
South, without being convinced that the race is 
constantly making slow but sure progress materially, 
educationally, and morally. One might take up 
the life of the' worst element in New York City, for 
example, and prove almost anything he wanted to 
prove concerning the white man, but all will agree 
that this is not a fair test. 

Early in the year 1897 I received a letter inviting 
me to deliver an address at the dedication of the 
Robert Gould Shaw monument in Boston. I ac- 
cepted the invitation. It is not necessary for me, 

1 am sure, to explain who Robert Gould Shaw was, 


and what he did. The monument to his memory 
dtands near the head of Boston Common, facing the 
State Houfte. It id counted to be the most perfect 
piece of art of the kind to be found in the country* 
The exercises connected with the dedication were 
held in Music Hall, in Boston, and the great hall 
was packed from top to bottom with one of the 
most distinguished audiences that ever assembled 
in the city. Among those present there were more 
persons representing the famous old anti-slavery 
element than it is likely will ever be brought to- 
gether in the country again. The late Hon* Roger 
Wolcott, then Governor of Massachusetts, was the 
presiding officer, and on the platform with him 
were many other officials and hundreds of distin- 
guished men. A report of the meeting which 
appeared in the Boston Transcript will describe it 
better than any words of mine could do : — 

The core and kernel of yesiterday's gfdat noon meeting 
in honour of the Brotherhood of Man, in Music Hall^ was 
the superb address of the Negro President of Tuskegee. 
" Booker T. Washington received his Harvard A. M. last 
June, the first of his race," said Governor Wolcott, *' to 
receive an honorary degree from the oldest university in 
the land, and this for the wise leadership of his people.^' 
When Mr. Washington rose in the flag-^filled, enthusiasm^ 
warmed, patriotic, and glowing atmosphere of Music Hall, 


people felt keenly that here was the civic justification of 
the old abolition spirit of Massachusetts ; in his person the 
proof of her ancient and indomitable faith ; in bis strong 
thought and rich oratory, the crown and glory of the old 
war days of suffering and strife. The scene was full of 
historic beauty and deep significance. ^^ Cold " Boston 
was alive with the fire that is always hot in her heart for 
righteousness and truth. Rows and rows of people who 
are seldom seen at any public function, whole families of 
those who are certain to^be out of town on a holiday, 
crowded the place to overflowing. The city was at her 
birthright fete in the persons of hundreds of her best 
citizens, men and women whose names and lives stand for 
the virtues that make for honourable civic pride. 

Battle*-music had filled the air. Ovation after ovation, 
applause warm and prolonged, had greeted the officers 
and friends of Colonel Shaw, the sculptor, St. Gaudens, 
the memorial Committee, the Governor and his staff, and 
the Negro soldiers of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts as 
they came upon the platform or entered the hall. Colonel 
Henry Lee, of Governor Andrew's old stafiF, had made a 
noble, simple presentation speech for the committee, pay-» 
ing tribute to Mr. John M. Forbes, in whose stead he 
served. Governor Wolcott had made his short, memora^ 
ble speech, saying, " Fort Wagner marked an epoch in 
the history of a race, and called it into manhood." Mayor 
Quincy had received the monument for the city of Boston. 
The story of Colonel Shaw and his black regiment had 
been told in gallant words, and then, after the singing of 

Mine eyes have seen the glory 
Of the coming of the Lord^ 


Booker Washington arose. It was, of course, just the 
moment for him. The multitude, shaken out of its usua^ 
symphony-concert calm, quivered with an excitement that 
was not suppressed. A dozen times it had sprung to its feet 
to cheer and wave and hurrah, as one person. When this 
man of culture and voice and power, as well as a dark skin, 
began,, and uttered the names of Stearns and of Andrew, 
feeling began to mount. You could see tears glisten in 
the eyes of soldiers and civilians. When the orator turned 
to the coloured soldiers on the platform, to the colour-bearer 
of Fort Wagner, who smilingly bore still the flag he had 
never lowered even when wounded, and said, " To you, to 
the scarred and scattered remnants of the Fifty-fourth, 
who, with empty sleeve and wanting leg, have honoured 
this occasion with your presence, to you, your commandei 
is not dead. Though Boston erected no monument and 
history recorded no story, in you and in the loyal race 
which you represent, Robert Gould Shaw would have a 
monument which time could not wear away," then came 
the climax of the emotion of the day and the hour. It was 
Roger Wolcott, as well as the Governor of Massachusetts, 
the individual representative of the people's sympathy as 
well as the chief magistrate, who had sprung first to his 
feet and cried, " Three cheers to Booker T, Washington ! ** 

Among those on the platform was Sergeant Will- 
iam H. Carney, of New Bedford, Mass., the brave 
coloured officer who was the colour-bearer at Fort 
Wagner and held the American flag. In spite of 
the fact that a large part of his regiment was killed. 


he escaped, and exclaimed, after the battle was over, 
" The old flag never touched the ground/* 

This flag Sergeant Carney held in his hands as 
he sat on the platform, and when I turned to address 
the survivors of the coloured regiment who were 
present, and referred to Sergeant Carney, he rose, 
as if by instinct, and raised the flag. It has been 
my privilege to witness a good many satisfactory 
and rather sensational demonstrations in connection 
with some of my public addresses, but in dramatic 
effect I have never seen or experienced anything 
which equalled this. For a number of minutes the 
audience seemed to entirely lose control of itself. 

In the general rejoicing throughout the country 
which followed the close of the Spanish-American 
war, peace celebrations were arranged in several of 
the large cities. I was asked by President William 
R. Harper, of the University of Chicago, who was 
chairman of the committee of invitations for the 
celebration to be held in the city of Chicago, to 
deliver one of the addresses at the celebration there. 
I accepted the invitation, and delivered two addresses 
there during the Jubilee week. The first of these, 
and the principal one, was given in the Auditorium, 
on the evening of Sunday, October 16. This was 
the largest audience that I have ever addressed, in 
any part of the country ; and besides speaking in 


the main Auditorium, I also addressed, that same 
evening, two overflow audiences in other parts of 
the city. 

It was said that there were sixteen thousand per- 
sons in the Auditorium, and it seemed to me as if 
there were as many more on the outside trying to 
get in. It was impossible for any one to get near 
the entrance without the aid of a policeman. Presi- 
dent William McKinley attended this meeting, as 
did also the members of his Cabinet, many foreign 
ministers, and a large number of army and navy 
officers, many of whom had distinguished them- 
selves in the war which had just closed. The speak- 
ers, besides myself, on Sunday evening, were Rabbi 
Emil G. Hirsch, Father Thomas P. Hodnett, and 
Dr. John H. Barrows. 

The Chicago Titnes-Heraldy in describing the 
meeting, said of my address : — 

He pictured the Negro choosing slavery rather than ex- 
tinction; recalled Crispus Attucks shedding his blood at 
the beginning of the American Revolution, that white 
Americans might be free, while black Americans remained 
in slavery ; rehearsed the conduct of the Negroes with 
Jackson at New Orleans ; drew a vivid and pathetic pic- 
ture of the Southern slaves protecting and supporting the 
families of their masters while the latter were fighting to 
perpetuate black slavery} recounted the bravery of col- 


oured troops at Port Hudson and Forts Wagner and Pil^ 
low, and praised the heroism of the black regiment^ tjbat 
stormed El Caney and Santiago to give freedom to the 
enslaved people of Cuba, forgetting, for the time being, the 
unjust discrimination that law and custom make against 
them in their own country. 

In all of these things, the speaker declared, his race had 
chosen the better part. And then he made his eloquent ap* 
peal to the consciences of the white Americans: *' When you 
have gotten the full story of the heroic conduct of the Negro 
in the Spanish-American war, have heard it from the lips 
of Northern soldier and Southern soldier, from ex-abolition* 
ist and ex-masters, riien decide within yourselves whether 
a race that is thus willing to die for its country should not 
be given the highest opportunity to live for its country." 

The part of the speech which seemed to arouse 
the wildest and most sensational enthusiasm was 
that in which I thanked the President for his recog- 
nition of the Negro in his appointments during the 
Spanish-American war. The President was sitting 
in a box at the right of the stage. When I addressed 
him I turned toward the box, and as I finished the 
sentence thanking him for his generosity, the whole 
audience rose and cheered again and again, waving 
handkerchiefs and hats and canes, until the Presi- 
dent arose in the box and bowed his acknowledg- 
ments. At that the enthusiasm broke out again, 
and the demonstration was almost indescribable. 


One portion of my address at Chicago seemed 
to have been misunderstood by the Southern press, 
and some of the Southern papers took occasion to 
criticise me rather strongly. These criticisms con- 
tinued for several weeks, until I finally received a 
letter from the editor of the Age-Herald^ published 
in Birmingham, Ala., asking me if I would say just 
what I meant by this part of my address. I re- 
plied to him in a letter which seemed to satisfy my 
critics. In this letter I said that I had made it a 
rule never to say before a Northern audience any- 
thing that I would not say before an audience in 
the South. I said that I did not think it was 
necessary for me to go into extended explanations ; if 
my seventeen years of work in the heart of the 
South had not been explanation enough^ I did not 
see how words could explain. I said that I made 
the same plea that I had made in my address at 
Atlanta, for the blotting out of race prejudice in 
" commercial and civil relations." I said that what 
is termed social recognition was a question which 
I never discussed, and then I quoted from my At- 
lanta address what I had said there in regard to that 

In meeting crowds of people at public gatherings, 
there is one type of individual that I dread. I 
mean the crank. I h^ve become so accustomed to 


these people now that I can pick them out at a 
distance when I see them elbowing their way up to 
me. The average crank has a long beard, poorly 
cared for, a lean, narrow face, and wears a black 


coat. The front of his vest and coat are slick 
with grease, and his trousers bag at the knees. 

In Chicago, after I had spoken at a meeting, I 
met one of these fellows. They usually have some 
process for curing all of the ills of the world at once. 
This Chicago specimen had a patent process by 
which he said Indian corn could be kept through 
a period of three or four vears, and he felt sure that 
if the Negro race in the South would, as a whole, 
adopt his process, it would settle the whole race 
question. It mattered nothing that I tried to con- 
vince him that our present problem was to teach 
the Negroes how to produce enough corn to last 
them through one year. Another Chicago crank 
had a scheme by which he wanted me to join him 
in an effort to close up all the National banks in 
the country. If that was done, he felt sure it 
would put the Negro on his feet. 

The number of people who stand feady to con- 
sume one's time, to no purpose, is almost countless. 
At one time I spoke before a large audience in 
Boston in the evening. The next morning I was 
awakened by having a card brought to my roomi 


and with it a message that some one was anxipus to 
see me. Thinking that it must be something very 
important^ I dressed hastily and went down. When 
I reached the hotel office I found a blank and 
innocent-looking individual waiting for me, who 
coolly remarked : ^^ I heard you talk at a meeting 
last night. I rather liked your talk, and so I came 
in this morning to hear you talk some more." 

I am often asked how it is possible for me to 
superintend the work at Tuskegee and at the 
same time be so much away from the school. In 
partial answer to this I would say that I think I 
have learned, in some degree at least, to disregard 
the old maxim which says, " Do not get others tq 
do that which you can do yourself." My motto, 
on the other hand, is, " Do not do that which 
others can do as well." 

One of the most encouraging signs in connection 
with the Tuskegee school is found in the feet that 
the organization is so thorough that the daily work 
of the school is not dependent upon the presence 
of any one individual. The whole executive force, 
including instructors and clerks, now numbers 
eighty-six. This force is so organized and sub- 
divided that the machinery of the school goes 
on day by day like clockwork. Most of oui 



tekchers Kal^d bein eonhteted with the ihstltutioh 
fbr a htlnlbet* of yeafs, ihd afe as much irttertsted 
in it as I am. In my absence, Mf. Warfeti Logan, 

the tfeadtirtr, who has beeh at the schdol seven- 
teen yeat^, h the e^tecutlve. He is efficiently suj)- 
ported by Mrs* Washington, and by ttiy feithftil 
secretary, Mr. Emniett J. Scott, Who handles the 
bulk of^ my corf espohdence ahd keeps me ih daily 
touch with the life of the school, and who alsb 
keeps me informed of whatever takes place ih the 
South that concet'tts the race. I owe more to his 
tact| Wisdbm, and hard Work than I can describe. 

The main executive work of the school, whether 
I am at Tuskegde or riot, centres trt What we call 
the executive council. This council meets twice a 
week, and is composed of the nine persohs who are 
at the head of the nine departments of the schooL 
For example : Mrs* B. K. Bruce, the Lady Princi- 
pal, the widow of the late ex-senator Bruce, is a 
member of the council, and represents Jn it all that 
pertains to the life of the girls at the school. In 
addition to the executive council there Is a financial 
committee of six, that meets every week and decides 
upon the expenditures for the week. Once a 
month, and sometimes oftener, there is a general 
meeting of all the Instructors. Aside froni these 
there are innumerable smaller meetings, ditch a^ 



that of the instructors In the Phelps Hall Bible 
Training School, or of the instructors in the agri- 
cultural department. 

In order that I may keep in constant touch with 
the life of the institution, I have a system of reports 
so arranged that a record of the school's work 
reaches me every day in the year, no matter in 
what part of the country I am. I know by these 
reports even what students are excused from school, 
and why they are excused — whether for reasons of 
ill health or otherwise. Through the medium 
of these reports I know each day what the income 
of the school in money is; I know how many 
gallons of milk and how many pounds of butter 
come from the dairy ; what the bill of fare for the 
teachers and students is; whether a certain kind 
of meat was boiled or baked, and whether certain 
vegetables served in the dining room were bought 
from a store or procured from our own farm. 
Human nature I find to be very much the same the 
world over, and it is sometimes not hard to yield 
to the temptation to go to a barrel of rice that has 
come from the store — with the grain all prepared 
to go into the pot — rather than to take the time 
and trouble to go to the field and dig and wash 
one's own sweet potatoes, which might be prepared 
in a manner to take the place of the rice. 


I am often asked how, in the midst of so much 
work, a large part of which is before the public, I 
can find time for any rest or recreation, and what 
kind of recreation or sports I am fond of. This is 
rather a difficult question to answer. I have a strong 
feeling that every individual owes it to himself, and 
to the cause which he is serving, to keep a vigorous, 
healthy body, with the nerves steady and strong, 
prepared for great efforts and prepared for disap- 
pointments and trying positions. As far as I can, 
I make it a rule to plan for each day's work — not 
merely to go through with the same routine of daily 
duties, but to get rid of the routine work as early 
In the day as possible, and then to enter upon some 
new or advance work. I make it a rule to clear 
my desk every day, before leaving my office, of all 
correspondence and memoranda, so that on the 
morrow I can begin a new day of work. I make 
it a rule never to let my work drive me, but to so 
master it, and keep it in such complete control, and 
to keep so far ahead of it, that I will be the master 
instead of the servant. There is a physical and 
mental and spiritual enjoyment that comes from a 
consciousness of being the absolute master of one's 
work, in all its details, that is very satisfactory and 
inspiring. My experience teaches me that, if one 
learns to follow this plan, he gets a freshness of 


body and vigour of mind Otit t( work that goeft a 
long y^tj toward keeping him strong and healthy. 
I believe that wheti one can grow to the point where 
he loves hl$ work, this gives him A kind of strength 
that is most valuable. 

When I begin my work in the morning, I eiepect 
to have a successful atid pleasatit day of it, but at 
the same time I prepare myself for unpleasant and 
uncjtpected hard places* I prepare myself to hear 
that one of our school builditigs is 6h fire, dr has 
burned, or that some disagreeable accident has oc^ 
curred, or that some one has abused me in a public 
address or printed article, for something that I have 
done or omitted to do, or for something thit he had 
heard that I had said — probably something that 
1 had never thought of saying* 

In nineteen years of eontinuous Work I have taken 
but one vacation. That Was two years ago, when 
some of my friends put the money into my hands 
and forced Mrs. Washington and myself to spend 
three months in Europe. I have said that I believe 
it is the duty of every one to keep his body in good 
condition. I try to look after the little ills, with 
the idea that if I take care of the little ills the big 
ones will not come. When 1 find myself unable 
to sleep well, I know that something is wrong* If 
1 find any part of my system the lei^t weakj and 


not performing its duty, I consult a good physician. 
The ability to sleep well, at any time and in any 
place, I find of great advantage. I have so trained 
myself that I can lie down for a nap of fifteen or 
twenty minutes, and get up refreshed in body and 

I have said that I make it a rule to finish up each 
day's work before leaving it. There is, perhaps, one 
exception to this. When I have an unusually diffi- 
cult question to decide — one that appeals strongly 
to the emotions — I find it a safe rule to sleep over 
it for a night, or to wait until I have had an oppor- 
tunity to talk it over with my wife and friends. 

As to my reading ; the most time I get for solid 
reading is when I am on the cars. Newspapers are 
to me a constant source of delight and recreation. 
The only trouble is that I read too many of them. 
Fiction I care little for. Frequently I have to al- 
most force myself to read a novel that is on every 
one's lips. The kind of reading that I have the 
greatest fondness for is biography. I like to be 
sure that I am reading about a real man or a real 
thing. I think I do not go too far when I say that 
I have read nearly every book and magazine article 
that has been written about Abraham Lincoln. In 
literature he is my patron saint. 

Out of the twelve months in a year I suppose 


that^ on an average, I spend six months away from 
Tuskegee. While my being absent from the school 
so much unquestionably has its disadvantages, yet 
there are at the same time some compensations. 
The change of work brings a certain kind of rest. 
I enjoy a ride of a long distance on the cars, when I 
am permitted to ride where I can be comfortable. 
I get rest on the cars, except when the inevitable 
individual who seems to be on every train approaches 
me with the now familiar phrase : " Isn't this Booker 
Washington ? I want to introduce myself to you." 
Absence from the school enables me to lose sight 
of the unimportant details of the work, and study 
it in a broader and more comprehensive manner 
than I could do on the grounds. This absence 
also brings me into contact with the best work being 
done in educational lines, and into contact with the 
best educators in the land. 

But, after all this is said, the time when I get the 
most solid rest and recreation is when I can be at 
Tuskegee, and, after our evening meal is over, can 
sit down, as is our custom, with my wife and Portia 
and Baker and Davidson, my three children, and 
read a story, or each take turns in telling a story. 
To me there is nothing on earth equal to that, al- 
though what is nearly equal to it is to go with them 
for an hour or more, as we like to do on Sunday 


afternoons, into the woods, where we can live for a 
while near the heart of nature, where no one can 
disturb or vex us, surrounded by pure air, the trees, 
the shrubbery, the flowers, and the sweet fragrance 
that springs from a hundred plants, enjoying the 
chirp of the crickets and the songs of the birds. 
This is solid rest. 

My garden, also, what little time I can be at 
Tuskegee, is another source of rest and enjoyment. 
Somehow I like, as often as possible, to touch na- 
ture, not something that is artificial or an imitation, 
but the real thing. When I can leave my office in 
time so that I can spend thirty or forty minutes in 
spading the ground, in planting seeds, in digging 
about the plants, I feel that I am coming into con- 
tact with something that is giving me strength for 
the many duties and hard places that await me out 
in the big world. I pity the man or woman who 
has never learned to enjoy nature and to get strength 
and inspiration out of it. 

Aside from the large number of fowls and ani- 
mals kept by the school, I keep individually a num- 
ber of pigs and fowls of the best grades, and in 
raising these I take a great deal of pleasure. I 
think the pig is my favourite animal. Few things 
are more satisfactory to me than a high-grade Berk- 
shire or Poland China pig. 


Games I care little for. I have never seen a 
game of football. In cards I do not know one 
card from another. A game of old-fashioned mar- 
bles with my two boys, once in a while, is all I care 
for in this direction. I suppose I would care for 
games now if I had had any time in my youth to 
give to them, but that was not possible. 


IN i 893 I was married to Miss Margaret James 
Murray, a native of Mississippi, and a gradu- 
ate of Fisk University, in Nashville, Tenn., 
who had come to Tuskegee as a teacher several 
years before, and at the time we were married was 
filling the position of Lady Principal. Not only is 
Mrs. Washington completely one with me in the 
work directly connected with the school, relieving 
me of many burdens and perplexities, but aside 
from her work on the school grounds, she carries 
on a mothers' meeting in the town of Tuskegee, 
and a plantation work among the women, children, 
and men who live in a settlement connected with a 
large plantation about eight miles from Tuskegee. 
Both the mothers' meeting and the plantation work 
are carried on, not only with a view to helping 
those who are directly reached, but also for the 
purpose of furnishing object-lessons in these two 
kinds of work that may be followed by our 



students when they go out Into the world for their 
own life-work. 

Aside from these two enterprises, Mrs. Washing- 
ton is also largely responsible for a woman's club at 
the school which brings together, twice a month, 
the women who live on the school grounds and 
those who live near, for the discussion of some 
important topic. She is also the President of what 
is known as the Federation of Southern Coloured 
Women's Clubs, and is Chairman of the Execu- 
tive Committee of the National Federation of Col- 
oured Women's Clubs. 

Portia, the oldest of my three children, has 
learned dressmaking. She has unusual ability in 
instrumental music. Aside from her studies at 
Tuskegee, she has already begun to teach there. 

Booker Taliaferro is my next oldest child. Young 
as he is, he has already nearly mastered the brick- 
mason's trade. He began working at this trade 
when he was quite small, dividing his time between 
this and class work; and he has developed great 
skill in the trade and a fondness for it. He says 
that he is going to be an architect and brickmason. 
One of the most satisfactory letters that I have ever 
received from any one came to me from Booker last 
summer. When I left home for the summer, I told 
him that he must work at his trade half of each day, 


and that the other half of the day he could spend 
as he pleased. When I had been away from home 
two weeks, I received the following letter from him: 

TusKEGEE, Alabama. 

My dear Papa : Before you left home you told me to 

work at my trade half of each day. I like my work so 

much that I want to work at my trade all day. Besides, I 

want to earn all the money I can, so that when I go to 

another school I shall have money to pay my expenses. 

Your son, 


My youngest child, Ernest Davidson Washing- 
ton, says that he is going to be a physician. In 
addition to going to school, where he studies books 
and has manual training, he regularly spends a 
portion of his time in the office of our resident 
physician, and has already learned to do many of 
the duties which pertain to a doctor's office. 

The thing in my life which brings me the keenest 
regret is that my work in connection with public 
affairs keeps me for so much of the time away from 
my family, where, of all places in the world, I de- 
light to be. I always envy the individual whose 
life-work is so laid that he can spend his evenings 
at home. I have sometimes thought that people 
who have this rare privilege do not appreciate it as 


they should. It is such a rest and relief to get 
away from crowds of people, and handshaking, and 
travelling, and get home, even if it be for but a very 
brief while. 

Another thing at Tuskegee out of which I get 
a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction is in the 
meeting with our students, and teachers, and their 
families, in the chapel for devotional exercises every 
evening at half-past eight, the last thing before 
retiring for the night. It is an inspiring sight when 
one stands on the platform there and sees before 
him eleven or twelve hundred earnest young men 
and women ; and one cannot but feel that it is a 
privilege to help to guide them to a higher and 
more useful life. 

In the spring of 1899 there came to me what I 
might describe as almost the greatest surprise of 
my life. Some good ladies in Boston arranged a 
public meeting in the interests of Tuskegee, to be 
held in the Hollis Street Theatre. This meeting 
was attended by large numbers of the best people of 
Boston, of both races. Bishop Lawrence presided. 
In addition to an address made by myself, Mr. 
Paul Lawrence Dunbar read from his poems, and 
Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois read an original sketch. 

Some of those who attended this meeting noticed 
that I seemed unusually tired, and some little time 


after the close of the meeting, one of the ladies who 
had been interested in it asked me in a casual way 
if I had ever been to Europe. I replied that I 
never had. She asked me if I had ever thought 
of going, and I told her no ; that it was something 
entirely beyond me. This conversation soon passed 
out of my mind, but a few days afterward I was 
informed that some friends in Boston, including 
Mr. Francis J. Garrison, had raised a sum of money 
sufficient to pay all the expenses of Mrs. Washing- 
ton and myself during a three or four months' trip 
to Europe. It was added with emphasis that we 
must go. A year previous to this Mr. Garrison 
had attempted to get me to promise to go to 
Europe for a summer's rest, with the understanding 
that he would be responsible for raising the money 
among his friends for the expenses of the trip. At 
that time such a journey seemed so entirely foreign 
to anything that I should ever be able to undertake 
that I confess I did not give the matter very seri- 
ous attention; but later Mr. Garrison joined his 
efforts to those of the ladies whom I have men- 
tioned, and when their plans were made known to 
me Mr. Garrison not only had the route mapped 
out, but had, I believe, selected the steamer upon 
which we were to sail. 

The whole thing was so sudden and so unex- 


pected that I was completely taken off my feet. 
I had been at work steadily for eighteen years in 
connection with Tuskegee, and I had never thought 
of anything else but ending my life in that way. 
Each day the school seemed to depend upon me 
more largely for its daily expenses, and I told these 
Boston friends that, while I thanked them sincerely 
for their thoughtfiilness and generosity, I could 
not go to Europe, for the reason that the school 
could not live financially while I was absent. They 
then informed me that Mr. Henry L. Higginson, 
and some other good friends who I know do not 
want their names made public, were then raising a 
sum of money which would be sufficient to keep 
the school in operation while I was away. At this 
point I was compelled to surrender. Every avenue 
of escape had been closed. 

Deep down in my heart the whole thing seemed 
more like a dream than like reality, and for a long 
time it was difficult for me to make myself believe 
that I was actually going to Europe. I had been 
born and largely reared in the lowest depths of 
slavery, ignorance, and poverty. In my childhood 
I had suffered for want of a place to sleep, for lack 
of^ food, clothing, and shelter. I had not had the 
privilege of sitting down to a dining-table until I was 
quite well grown. Luxuries had always seemed to 


me to be something meant for white people, not for 
my race. I had always regarded Europe, and Lon- 
don, and Paris, much as I regard heaven. And now 
could It be that I was actually going to Europe? 
Such thoughts as these were constantly with me. 

Two other thoughts troubled me a good deal. 
I feared that people who heard that Mrs. Washing- 
ton and I were going to Europe might not know 
all the circumstances, and might get the idea that 
we had become, as some might say, "stuck up," 
and were trying to "show off." I recalled that from 
my youth I had heard it said that too often, when 
people of my race reached any degree of success, 
they were inclined to unduly exalt themselves ; to 
try and ape the wealthy, and in so doing to lose 
their heads. The fear that people might think 
this of us haunted me a good deal. Then, too, 
I could not see how my conscience would permit 
me to spare the time from my work and be happy. 
It seemed mean and selfish in me to be taking a 
vacation while others were at work, and while there 
was so much that needed to be done. From the 
time I could remember, I had always been at work, 
and I did not see how I could spend three or four 
months in doing nothing. The fact was that I did 
not know how to take a vacation. 

Mrs. Washington had much the same difficulty 


in getting away, but she was anxious to go because 
she thought that I needed the rest. There were 
many important National questions bearing upon 
the life of the race which were being agitated at that 
time, and this made it all the harder for us to decide 
to go. We finally gave our Boston friends our 
promise that we would go, and then they insisted 
that the date of our departure be set as soon as 
possible. So we decided upon May lo. My 
good friend Mr. Garrison kindly took charge of 
all the details necessary for the success of the trip, 
and he, as well as other friends, gave us a great 
number of letters of introduction to people in 
France and England, and made other arrange- 
ments for our comfort and convenience abroad. 
Good-bys were said at Tuskegee, and we were in 
New York May 9, ready to sail the next day. Our 
daughter Portia, who was then studying in South 
Framingham, Mass., came to New York to see us 
off. Mr. Scott, my secretary, came with me to 
New York, in order that I might clear up the last 
bit of business before I left. Other friends also 
came to New York to see us off. Just before we 
went on board the steamer another pleasant sur- 
prise came to us in the form of a letter from two 
generous ladies, stating that they had decided to 
give us the money with which to erect a new build' 


ing to be used in properly housing all our indus- 
tries for girls at Tuskegee. 

We were to sail on the Friesland, of the Red 
Star Line, and a beautiful vessel she was. We 
went on board just before noon, the hour of sail- 
ing. I had never before been on board a large 
ocean steamer, and the feeling which took posses- 
sion of me when I found myself there is rather 
hard to describe. It was a feeling, I think, of 
awe mingled with delight. We were agreeably 
surprised to find that the captain, as well as several 
of the other officers, not only knew who we were, 
but was expecting us and gave us a pleasant greet- 
ing. There were several passengers whom we 
knew, including Senator Sewell, of New Jersey, and 
Edward Marshall, the newspaper correspondent. 
I had just a little fear that we would not be treated 
civilly by some of the passengers. This fear was 
based upon what I had heard other people of my 
race, who had crossed the ocean, say about un- 
pleasant experiences in crossing the ocean in Ameri- 
can vessels. But in our case, from the captain 
down to the most humble servant, we were treated 
with the greatest kindness. Nor was this kindness 
confined to those who were connected with the 
steamer; It was shown by all the passengers also. 
There were not a few Southern men and women 


on board, and they were as cordial as those from 
other parts of the country. 

As soon as the last good-bys were said, and 
the steamer had cut loose from the wharf, the load 
of care, anxiety, and responsibility which I had 
carried for eighteen years began to lift itself from 
my shoulders at the rate, it seemed to me, of a 
pound a minute. It was the first time in all those 
years that I had felt, even in a measure, free from 
care ; and my feeling of relief it is hard to describe 
on paper. Added to this was the delightful antici- 
pation of being in Europe soon. It all seemed 
more like a dream than like a reality. 

Mr. Garrison had thoughtfully arranged to have 
us have one of the most comfortable rooms on the 
ship. The second or third day out I began to 
sleep, and I think that I slept at the rate of fifteen 
hours a day during the remainder of the ten days* 
passage. Then it was that I began to understand 
how tired I really was. These long sleeps I kept 
up for a month after we landed on the other side. 
It was such an unusual feeling to wake up in the 
morning and realize that I had no engagements ; 
did not have to take a train at a certain hour ; 
did not have an appointment to meet some one, 
or to make an address, at a certain hour. How 
different all this was from some of the experiences 


that I have been through when travelling, when I 
have sometimes slept in three different beds in 
. a single night ! 

When Sunday came, the captain invited me to 
conduct the religious services, but, not being a 
minister, I declined. The passengers, however, 
began making requests that I deliver an address 
to them in the dining-saloon some time during 
the voyage, and this I consented to do. Senator 
Sewell presided at this meeting. After ten days 
of delightful weather, during which I was not sea- 
sick for a day, we landed at the interesting old city 
of Antwerp, in Belgium. 

The next day after we landed happened to be one of 
those numberless holidays which the people of those 
countries are in the habit of observing. It was a 
bright, beautiful day. Our room in the hotel faced 
the main public square, and the sights there — the 
people coming in from the country with all kinds 
of beautiful flowers to sell, the women coming in 
with their dogs drawing large, brightly polished cans 
filled with milk, the people streaming into the 
cathedral — filled me with a sense of newness that 
I had never before experienced. 

After spending some time in Antwerp, we were 
invited to go with a party of a half-dozen persons 
on a trip through Holland. This party included 


Edward Marshall and some American artists who 
had come over on the same steamer with us. We 
accepted the invitation, and enjoyed the trip greatly. 
I think it was all the more interesting and instruc- 
tive because we went for most of the way on one of 
the slow, old-fashioned canal-boats. This gave us 
an opportunity of seeing and studying the real life 
of the people in the country districts. We went in 
this way as far as Rotterdam, and later went to The 
Hague, where the Peace Conference was then in 
session, and where we were kindly received by the 
American representatives. 

The thing that impressed itself most on me in 
Holland was the thoroughness of the agriculture and 
the excellence of the Holstein cattle. I never 
knew, before visiting Holland, how much it was 
possible for people to get out of a small plot of 
ground. It seemed to me that absolutely no land 
was wasted. It was worth a trip to Holland, too, 
just to get a sight of three or four hundred fine 
Holstein cows grazing in one of those intensely 
green fields. 

From Holland we went to Belgium, and made a 
hasty trip through that country, stopping at Brus- 
sels, where we visited the battlefield of Waterloo. 
From Belgium we went direct to Paris, where we 
found that Mr. Theodore Stanton, the son of Mrs. 


Elizabeth Cady Stanton, had kindly provided ac-^ 
commodations for us. We had barely got settled 
in Paris before an invitation came to me from the 
University Club of Paris to be its guest at a ban- 
quet which was soon to be givpn. The other guests 
were ex-President Benjamin Harrison and Arch- 
bishop Ireland, who were in Paris at the time. 
The American Ambassador, General Horace Por- 
ter, presided at the banquet. My address on this 
occasion seemed to give satisfaction to those who 
heard it. General Harrison kindly devoted a 
large portion of his remarks at dinner to myself 
and to the influence of the work at Tuskegee on 
the American race question. After my address at 
this banquet other invitations came to me, but I 
declined the most of them, knowing that if I 
accepted them all, the object of my visit would be 
defeated. I did, however, consent to deliver an 
address in the American chapel the following Sun- 
day morning, and at this meeting General Harrison, 
General Porter, and other distinguished Americans 
were present. 

Later we received a formal call from the Ameri- 
can Ambassador, and were invited to attend a 
reception at his residence. At this reception we 
met many Americans, among them Justices Fuller 
and Harlan, of the United States Supreme Court. 


During our entire stay of a month in Paris, both 
the American Ambassador and his wife, as well as 
several other Americans, were very kind to us. 

While in Paris we saw a good deal of the now 
famous American Negro pdnter, Mr. Henry O. 
Tanner, whom we had formerly known in Amer- 
ica. It was very satisfactory to find how well 
known Mr. Tanner was in the field of art, and to 
note the high standing which all classes accorded to 
him. When we told some Americans that we were 
going to the Luxembourg Palace to see a painting 
by an American Negro, it was hard to convince 
them that a Negro had been thus honoured. I do 
not believe that they were really convinced of the 
fact until they saw the picture for themselves. My 
acquaintance with Mr. Tanner reenforced in my 
mind the truth which I am constantly trying to 
impress upon our students at Tuskegee — and on our 
people throughout the country, as far as I can reach 
them with my voice — that any man, regardless of 
colour, will be recognized and rewarded just in pro- 
portion as he learns to do something well — learns 
to do it better than some one else — however hum- 
ble the thing may be. As I have said, I believe 
that my race will succeed in proportion as it learns 
to do a common thing in an uncommon manner ; 
learns to do a thing so thoroughly that no one can 


improve upon what it has done; learns to make 
its services of indispensable value. This was the 
spirit that inspired me in my first effort at Hampton, 
when I was given the opportunity to sweep and dust 
that schoolroom. In a degree I felt that my whole 
future life depended upon the thoroughness with 
which I cleaned that room, and I was determined 
to do it so well that no one could find any fault 
with the job. Few people ever stopped, I found, 
when looking at his pictures, to inquire whether Mr. 
Tanner was a Negro painter, a French painter, or a 
German painter. They simply knew that he was 
able to produce something which the world wanted 
— a great painting — and the matter of his colour 
did not enter into their minds. When a Negro 
girl learns to cook, to wash dishes, to sew, to write 
a book, or a Negro boy learns to groom horses, or 
to grow sweet potatoes, or to produce butter, or to 
build a house, or to be able to practise medicine, as 
well or better than some one else, they will be re- 
warded regardless of race or colour. In the long 
run, the world is going to have the best, and any 
difference in race, religion, or previous history will 
not long keep the world from what it wants. 

I think that the whole future of my race hinges 
on the question as to whether or not it can make 
itself of such indispensable value that the people in 


the town and the state where we reside will feel 
that our presence is necessary to the happiness and 
well-being of the community. No man who con- 
tinues to add something to the material, intellectual, 
and moral well-being of the place in which he lives 
is long left without proper reward. This is a great 
human law which cannot be permanently nullified. 

The love of pleasure and excitement which seems 
in a large measure to possess the French people im- 
pressed itself upon me. I think they are more 
noted in this respect than is true of the people 
of my own race. In point of morality and moral 
earnestness I do not believe that the French are 
ahead of my own race in America. Severe com- 
petition and the great stress of life have led them 
to learn to do things more thoroughly and to exer- 
cise greater economy ; but time, I think, will bring 
my race to the same point. In the matter of truth 
and high honour I do not believe that the average 
Frenchman is ahead of the American Negro ; while 
so far as mercy and kindness to dumb animals go, 
I believe that my race is far ahead. In fact, when 
I left France, I had more faith in the future of the 
black man in America than I had ever possessed. 

From Paris we went to London, and reached 
there early in July, just about the height of the 
London social season. Parliament was in session. 


and there was a great deal of gaiety. Mr. Garri- 
son and other friends had provided us with a large 
number of letters of introduction, and they had 
also sent letters to other persons in different parts 
of the United Kingdom, apprising these people of 
our coming. Very soon after reaching London we 
were flooded with invitations to attend all manner 
of social functions, and a great many invitations 
came to me asking that I deliver public addresses. 
The most of these invitations I declined, for the 
reason that I wanted to rest. Neither were we able 
to accept more than a small proportion of the other 
invitations. The Rev. Dr. Brooke Herford and 
Mrs. Herford, whom I had known in Boston, con- 
sulted with the American Ambassador, the Hon. 
Joseph Choate, and arranged for me to speak at 
a public meeting to be held in Essex Hall. Mr. 
Choate kindly consented to preside. The meeting 
was largely attended. There were many distin- 
guished persons present, among them several mem^ 
bers of Parliament, including Mr. James Bryce, who 
spoke at the meeting. What the American Ambas- 
sador said in introducing me, as well as a synopsis 
of what I said, was widely published in England and 
in the American papers at the time. Dr. and Mrs. 
Herford gave Mrs. Washington and myself a recep- 
tion, at which we had the privilege of meeting some 


of the best people in England. Throughout our 
stay in London Ambassador Choate was most kind 
and attentive to us. At the Ambassador's reception 
I met, for the first time, Mark Twain. 

We were the guests several times of Mrs. T. 
Fisher Unwin, the daughter of the English states- 
man, Richard Cobden. It seemed as if both Mr. 
and Mrs. Unwin could not do enough for our com- 
fort and happiness. Later, for nearly a week, we 
were the guests of the daughter of John Bright, 
now Mrs. Clark, of Street, England. Both Mr. 
and Mrs. Clark, with their daughter, visited us at 
Tuskegee the next year. In Birmingham, Eng- 
land, we were the guests for several days of Mr. 
Joseph Sturge, whose father was a great abolitionist 
and friend of Whittier and Garrison. It was a 
great privilege to meet throughout England those 
who had known and honoured the late William 
Lloyd Garrison, the Hon. Frederick Douglass, 
and other abolitionists. The English abolitionists 
with whom we came in contact never seemed to 
tire of talking about these two Americans. Before 
going to England I had had no proper conception 
of the deep interest displayed by the abolitionists of 
England in the cause of freedom, nor did I realize 
the amount of substantial help given by them. 

In Bristol, England, both Mrs. Washington and 


I spoke at the Women's Liberal Club. I was also 
the principal speaker at the Commencement exer- 
cises of the Royal College for the Blind. These 
exercises were held in the Crystal Palace, and the 
presiding officer was the late Duke of Westminster, 
who was said to be, I believe, the richest man in 
England, if not in the world. The Duke, as 
well as his wife and their daughter, seemed to be 
pleased with what I said, and thanked me heartily. 
Through the kindness of Lady Aberdeen, my wife 
and I were enabled to go with a party of those 
who were attending the International .Congress of 
Women, then in session in London, to see Queen 
Victoria, at Windsor Castle, where, afterward, we 
were all the guests of her Majesty at tea. In our 
party was Miss Susan B. Anthony, and I was 
deeply impressed with the fact that one did not 
often get an opportunity to see, during the same 
hour, two women so remarkable in different ways 
as Susan B. Anthony and Queen Victoria. 

In the House of Commons, which we visited 
several times, we met Sir Henry. M. Stanley. I 
talked with him about Africa and its relation to the 
American Negro, and after my interview with him 
I became more convinced than ever that there was 
no hope of the American Negro's improving his 
condition by emigrating to Africa* 


On various occasions Mts. Washiiigtbn and I 
were the guests* of Englishmen in their country 
homes, where, I think, one sees the Englishman at 
his best. In one thing, at least, I feel sure that the 
English are ahead of Americans, and that is, that 
they have learned how to get more out of life. 
The home life of the English seems to me to be 
about as perfect as anything can be. Everything 
moves like clockwork. I was impressed, too, with 
the deference that the servants show to their ** mas- 
tet-s** and "mistresses,'* — terms which I suppose 
would not be tolerated in America. The English 
servant expects, as a nlle, to be nothing but a ser- 
vant, and so he perfects himself in the art to a 
degree that no class of servants in America has yet 
reached. In our country the servant expects to 
become, in a few years, a "master** himself. 
Which system is preferable? I will not venture 
an answer. 

Another thing that impressed itself upon me 
throughout England was the high regard that all 
classes have for law and order, and the ease and 
thoroughness with which everything is done. The 
Englishmen, I found, took plenty of time for eat- 
ing, as for everything else. I am not sure if, in the 
long run, they do hot accomplish as much or more 
than rushing, nervous Americans do. 


My visit to England gave me a higher regard for 
the nobility than I had had. I had no idea that 
they were so generally loved and respected by the 
massesj nor had I any correct conception of how 
much time and money they spent in works of 
philanthropy, and how much real heart they put 
into this work. My impression had been that 
they merely spent money freely and had a " good 

It was hard for me to get accustomed to speak- 
ing to English audiences. The average English- 
man is so serious, and is so tremendously in earnest 
about everything, that when I told a story that 
would have made an American audience roar with 
laughter, the Englishmen simply looked me straight 
in the face without even cracking a smile. 

When the Englishman takes you into his heart 
and friendship, he binds you there as with cords of 
steel, and I do not believe that there are many other 
friendships that are so ksting or so satisfactory. 
Perhaps I can illustrate this point in no better 
way than by relating the following incident. Mrs. 
Washington and I were invited to attend a recep- 
tion given by the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland, 
at Stafford House — said to be the finest house in 
London ; I may add that I believe the Duchess of 
Sutherland is said to be the most beautiful woman 



in England. There must have been at least three 
hundred persons at this reception. Twice during 
the evening the Duchess sought us out for a con- 
versation, and she asked me to write her when we 
got home, and tell her more about the work at 
Tuskegee. This I did. When Christmas came 
we were surprised and delighted to receive her 
photograph with her autograph on it. The corre- 
spondence has continued, and we now feel that in 
the Duchess of Sutherland we have one of our 
warmest friends. 

After three months in Europe we sailed from 
Southampton in the steamship St. Louis. On this 
steamer there was a fine library that had been pre- 
sented to the ship by the citizens of St. Louis, 
Mo. In this library I found a life of Freder- 
ick Douglass, which I began reading. I became 
especially interested in Mr. Douglasses description 
of the way he was treated on shipboard during his 
first or second visit to England. In this descrip- 
tion he told how he was not permitted to enter the 
cabin, but had to confine himself to the deck of the 
ship. A few minutes after I had finished reading 
this description I was waited on by a committee of 
ladies and gentlemen with the request that I deliver 
an address at a concert which was to be given the 
following evening. And yet there are people who 


are bold enough to say that race feeling in America 
is not growing less intense! At this concert the 
Hon. Benjamin B. Odell, Jr., the present governor 
of New York, presided. I was never given a more 
cordial hearing anywhere. A large proportion of the 
passengers were Southern people. After the concert 
some of the passengers proposed that a subscription 
be raised to help the work at Tuskegee, and the 
money to support several scholarships was the result. 
While we were in Paris I was very pleasantly 
surprised to receive the following invitation from 
the citizens of West Virginia and of the city near 
which I had spent my boyhood days : — 

Charleston, W. Va., May 16, 1899. 

Professor Booker T. Washington, Paris, France : 

Dear Sir : Many of the best citizens of West Vir- 
ginia have united in liberal expressions of admiration and 
praise of your worth and work, and desire that on your 
return from Europe you should favour them with your pres- 
ence and with the inspiration of your words. We most 
sincerely indorse this move, and on behalf of the citizens 
of Charleston extend to you our most cordial invitation to 
have you come to us, that we may honour you who have 
done so much by your life and work to honour us. 

We are. Very truly yours. 

The Common Council of the City of Charleston, 

By W. Herman Smith, Mayor. 


This invitation from the City Council of Charleston 
was accompanied by the following : — 

Professor Booker T, Washington, Paris, France: 

Dear Sir : We, the citizens of Charleston and West 
Virginia, desire to express our pride in you and the splen* 
did career that you have thus far accomplished, and ask 
that we be permitted to show our pride and interest in a 
substantial way. 

Your recent visit to your old home in our midst awoke 
within us the keenest regret that we were not permitted to 
hear you and render some substantial aid to your work, 
before you left for Europe. 

In view of the foregoing, we earnestly invite you to 
share the hospitality of our city upon your return from 
Europe, and give us the opportunity to hear you and put 
ourselves in touch with your work in a way that will be 
most gratifying to yourself, and that we may receive the 
inspiration of your words and presence* 

An early reply to this invitation, with an indication of 
the time you may reach our city, will greatly oblige. 

Yours veiy respectfully. 

The Charleston Dai/y Gazette, The Dat7j Matt- 
Tribune; G. W. Atkinson, Governor; £. L. Boggs, 
Secretary to Governor; Wm, M. O, Dftwson^ 
Secretary of State ; L. M, La FoUette, Auditor \ 
J, R. Trotter, Superintendent of Schools ; E. W. Wil- 
son, ex-Governor ; W. A. MacCorkle, ex-Govcmor ; 
John Q. Dickinson, President Kanawha Valley Bank ; 
L. Prichard, President Charleston National Bank ; 
Geo. S. Couch, President Kanawha National Bank| 


Ed. Reid, Cashier Kanawha National Bank ; Geo. 
S. Laidley» Superintendent City Schools ; L. E. Mc* 
Whorter» President Board of Education ; Chas. K« 
Payne, wholesale merchant ; and many others. 

This invitation, coming as it did from the City 
Council, the state officers, and all the substantial 
citizens of both races of the community where I 
had spent my boyhood, and from which I had gone 
a few years before, unknown, in poverty and igno- 
rance, in quest of an education, not only surprised 
me, but almost unmanned me. I could not under- 
stand what I had done to deserve it all. 

I accepted the invitation, and at the appointed 
day was met at the railway station at Charleston by 
a committee headed by ex-Governor W. A. Mac- 
Corkle, and composed of men of both races. The 
public reception was held in the Opera-House at 
Charleston. The Governor of the state, the Hon. 
George W. Atkinson, presided, and an address of 
welcome was made by ex-Governor MacCorkle. A 
prominent part in the reception was taken by the 
coloured citizens. The Opera-House was filled with 
citizens of both races, and among the white people 
were many for whom I had worked when a boy. 
The next day Governor and Mrs. Atkinson gave 
me a public reception at the State House^ which 
was attended by all classes. 


Not long after this the coloured people in Atlanta, 
Georgia, gave me a reception at which the Governor 
of the state presided, and a similar reception was 
given me in New Orleans, which was presided over 
by the Mayor of the city. Invitations came from 
many other places which I was not able to accept. 



BEFORE going to Europe some events came 
into my life which were great surprises to 
me. In fact, my whole life has largely been 
one of surprises. I believe that any man's life will 
be filled with constant, unexpected encouragements 
of this kind if he makes up his mind to do his 
level best each day of his life — that is, tries to 
make each day reach as nearly as possible the high- 
water mark of pure, unselfish, useful living. I pity 
the man, black or white, who has never experienced 
the joy and satisfaction that come to one by reason 
of an effort to assist in making some one else more 
useful and more happy. 

Six months before he died, and nearly a year 
after he had been stricken with paralysis. General 
Armstrong expressed a wish to visit Tuskegee 
again before he passed away. Notwithstanding the 
fact that he had lost the use of his limbs to such 
an extent that he was practically helpless, his wish 
was gratified, and he was brought to Tuskegee. 



The owners of the Tuskegee Railroad, white men 
living in the town, ofFered to run a special train, 
without cost, out to the main station — Chehaw, 
five miles away — to meet him. He arrived on 
the school grounds about nine o'clock in the even- 
ing. Some one had suggested that we give the 
General a " pine-knot torchlight reception." This 
plan was carried out, and the moment that his 
carriage entered the school grounds he began pass- 
ing between two lines of lighted and waving "fat 
pine " wood knots held by over a thousand students 
and teachers. The whole thing was so novel and 
surprising that the General was completely over- 
come with happiness. He remained a guest in 
my home for nearly two months, and, although 
almost wholly without the use of voice or limb, 
he spent nearly every hour in devising ways and 
means to help the South. Time and time again 
he said to me, during this visit, that it was not 
only the duty of the country to assist in elevating 
the Negro of the South, but the poor white man 
as well. At the end of his visit I resolved anew 
to devote myself more earnestly than ever to the 
cause which was so near his heart. I said that if 
a man in his condition was willing to think, worki 
and act, I should not be wanting in furthering in 
every possible way the wish of his heart. 


The death of General Armstrong, a few weeks 
later, gave me the privilege of getting acquainted 
with one of the finest, most unselfish, and most 
attractive men that I have ever come in contact 
with. I refer to the Rev. Dr. HoUis B. Frissell, 
now the Principal of the Hampton Institute, and 
General Armstrong's successor. Under the clear, 
strong, and almost perfect leadership of Dr. Frissell, 
Hampton has had a career of prosperity and useful- 
ness that is all that the General could have wished 
for. It seems to be the constant effort of Dr. 
Frissell to hide his own great personality behind 
that of General Armstrong — to make himself of 
" no reputation " for the sake of the cause. 

More than once I have been asked what was 
the greatest surprise that ever came to me. I 
have little hesitation in answering that question. 
It was the following letter, which came to me 
one Sunday morning when I was sitting on the 
veranda of my home at Tuskegee, surrounded by 
my wife and three children : — 

Harvard UNivERsmr, Cambridge^ May 28,1896. 
President Booker T. Washington, 

My Dear Sir : Harvard University desires to confer on 
you at the approaching Commencement an honorary degree } 
but it is our custom to confer degrees only on gentlemen 
who are present. Our Commencement occurs this yeaf 


on June 24, and your presence would be desirable from 
about noon till about five o'clock in the afternoon. Would 
it be possible for you to be in Cambridge on that day ? 
Believe me, with great regard. 

Very truly yours, 

Charles W, Eliot. 

This was a* recognition that had never in the 
slightest manner entered into my mind, and it was 
hard for me to realize that I was to be honoured by 
a degree from the oldest and most renowned uni- 
versity in America. As I sat upon my veranda, 
with this letter in my hand, tears came Into my 
eyes. My whole former life — my life as a slave 
on the plantation, my work in the coal-mine, the 
times when I was without food and clothing, when 
I made my bed under a sidewalk, my struggles for 
an education, the trying days I had had at Tuske- 
gee, days when I did not know where to turn for a 
dollar to continue the work there, the ostracism and 
sometimes oppression of my race, — all this passed 
before me and nearly overcame me. 

I had never sought or cared for what the world 
calls fame. I have always looked upon fame as some- 
thing to be used in accomplishing good. I have 
often said to my friends that if I can use whatever 
prominence may have come to me as an instrument 
with which to do good, I am content to have it. I 


care for it only as a means to be used for doing 
good, just as wealth may be used. The more I 
come into contact with wealthy people, the more I 
believe that they are growing in the direction of 
looking upon their money simply as an instrument 
which God has placed in their hand for doing good 
with. I never go to the office of Mr. John D. 
Rockefeller, who more than once has been generous 
to Tuskegee, without being reminded of this. The 
close, careful, and minute investigation that he always 
makes in order to be sure that every dollar that he 
gives will do the most good — an investigation that 
is just as searching as if he were investing money 
in a business enterprise — convinces me that the 
growth in this direction is most encouraging. 

At nine o'clock, on the morning of June 24, I 
met President Eliot, the Board of Overseers of Har- 
vard University, and the other guests, at the desig- 
nated place on the university grounds, for the pur- 
pose of being escorted to Sanders Theatre, where 
the Commencement exercises were to be held and 
degrees conferred. Among others invited to be 
present for the purpose of receiving a degree at this 
time were General Nelson A. Miles, Dr. Bell, the 
inventor of the Bell telephone. Bishop Vincent, and 
the Rev. Mi not J. Savage. We were placed in line 
immediately behind the Presider^t and the Board of 


Overseers, and directly afterward the Governor of 
Massachusetts, escorted by the Lancers, arrived and 
took his place in the line of march by the side of 
President Eliot. In the line there were also various 
other officers and professors, clad in cap and gown. 
In this order we marched to Sanders Theatre, where, 
after the usual Commencement exercises, came the 
conferring of the honorary degrees. This, it seems, 
is always considered the most interesting feature at 
Harvard. It is not known, until the individuals 
appear, upon whom the honorary degrees are to be 
conferred, and those receiving these honours are 
cheered by the students and others in proportion to 
their popularity. During the conferring of the de- 
grees excitement and enthusiasm are at the highest 

When my name was called, I rose, and President 
Eliot, in beautiful and strong English, conferred 
upon me the degree of Master of Arts. After 
these exercises were over, those who had received 
honorary degrees were invited to lunch with the 
President. After the lunch we were formed in line 
again, and were escorted by the Marshal of the day, 
who that year happened to be Bishop William Law- 
rence, through the grounds, where, at different 
points, those who had been honoured were called by 
name and received the Harvard yell. This march 


ended at Memorial Hall, where the alumni dinner 
was served. To see over a thousand strong men, 
representing all that is best in State, Church, busi- 
ness, and education, with the glow and enthusiasm 
of college loyalty and college pride, — which has, I 
think, a peculiar Harvard flavour, — is a sight, that 
does not easily fade from memory. 

Among the speakers after dinner were President 
Eliot, Governor Roger Wolcott, General Miles, 
Dr. Minot J. Savage, the Hon. Henry Cabot 
Lodge, and myself. When I was called upon, 
I said, among other things : — 

It would in some measure relieve my embarrassment 
if I could, even in a slight degree, feel myself worthy of 
the great honour which you do me to-day. Why you 
have called me from the Black Belt of the South, from 
among my humble people, to share in the honours of this 
occasion, is not for me to explain ; and yet it may not be 
inappropriate for me to suggest that it seems to me that one 
of the most vital questions that touch our American life is 
how to bring the strong, wealthy, and learned into helpful 
touch with the poorest, most ignorant, and humblest, and 
at the same time make one appreciate the vitalizing, 
strengthening .influence of the other. How shall we make 
the mansions on yon Beacon Street feel and see the need 
of the spirits in the lowliest cabin in Alabama cotton- 
fields or Louisiana sugar-bottoms ? This problem Harvard 
University is solving, not by bringing itself down, but by 
bringing the masses up. 


If my life in the past has meant anything in the lifting 
up of my people and the bringing about of better relations 
between your race and mine, I assure you from this day it 
will mean doubly more. In the economy of God there 
is but one standard by which an individual can succeed — 
there is but one for a race. This country demands that 
every race shall measure itself by the American standard. 
By it a race must rise or fall, succeed or fail, and in the 
last analysis mere sentiment counts for little. During the 
next half-century and more, my race must continue pass- 
ing through the severe American crucible. We are to be 
tested in our patience, our forbearance, our perseverance, 
our power to endure wrong, to withstand temptations, to 
economize, to acquire and use skill ; in our ability to 
compete, to succeed in commerce, to disregard the super- 
ficial for the real, the appearance for the substance, to be 
great and yet small, learned and yet simple, high and yet 
the servant of all. 


As this was the first time that a New England 
university had conferred an honorary degree upon a 
Negro, it was the occasion of much newspaper com- 
ment throughout the country. A correspondent of 
a New York paper said : — 

When the name of Booker T. Washington was called, 
and he arose to acknowledge and accept, there was such an 
outburst of applause as greeted no other name except that 
of the popular soldier patriot. General Miles. The applause 
was not studied and stiff, sympathetic and condoling ; it 
was enthusiasm and admiration. Every part of the audi- 


ence from pit to gallery joined in, and a glow covered 
the cheeks of those around me, proving sincere appreciation 
of the rising struggle of an ex-slave and the work he has 
accomplished for his race. 

A Boston paper said, editorially : — 

In conferring the honorary degree of Master of Arts 
upon the Principal of Tuskegee Institute, Harvard Uni- 
versity has honoured itself as well as the object of this 
distinction. The work which Professor Booker T. Wash- 
ington has accomplished for the education, good citizenship, 
and popular enlightenment in his chosen field of labour in 
the South entitles him to rank with our national benefactors. 
The university which can claim him on its list of sons, 
whether in regular course or honoris causa^ may be proud. 

It has been mentioned that Mr. Washington is the first 
of his race to receive an honorary degree from a New Eng- 
land university. This, in itself, is a distinction. But the 
degree was not conferred because Mr. Washington is a 
coloured man, or because he was born in slavery, but because 
he has shown, by his work for the elevation of the people 
of the Black Belt of the South, a genius and a broad 
humanity which count for greatness in any man, whether 
his skin be white or black. 

Another Boston paper said : — 

It is Harvard which, first among New England colleges, 
confers an honorary degree upon a black man. No one 
who has followed the history of Tuskegee and its work can 
fail to admire the courage, persistence, and splendid com- 


mon sense of Booker T. Washington. Well may Harvard 
honour the ex-slave, the value of whose services, alike to 
his race md country, only the future can estimate. 

The correspondent of the New York Times 
wrote : — 

All the speeches were enthusiastically received, but the 
coloured man carried off the oratorical honours, and the 
applause which broke out when he had finished was vocif- 
erous and long-continued. 

Soon after I began work at Ttiskegee I formed a 
resolution, in the secret of my heart, that I would 
try to build up a school that would be of so much 
service to the country that the President of the 
United States would one day come to see it. This 
was, I confess, rather a bold resolution, and for a 
number of years I kept it hidden in my owti thoughts, 
not daring to share it with any one. 

In November, 1897, I made the first move in 
this direction, and that was in securing a visit from 
a member of President McKinley's Cabinet, the 
Hon. James Wilson, Secretary of Agriculture. He 
came to deliver an address at the formal opening of 
the Slater- Armstrong Agricultural Building, our first 
large building to be used for the purpose of giving 
training to our students in agriculture and kindred 


In the fell of 1898 I heard that President Mc- 
Kirtky was likely to visit Atlanta, Georgiaj for the 
purpose of taking part in the Peace Jubilee exercises 
to be held there to commemorate the successful close 
of the Spanish- American war. At this time I had 
been hard at work, together with our teachers, for 
eighteen years, trying to build up a school that we 
thought would be of service to the Nation, and I 
determined to make a direct effort to secure a visit 
from the Pt-esident and his Cabinet. I went to 
Washington, and I was not long in the city before 
I found my way to the White House. When I 
got there I found the waiting rooms full of people, 
and my heart began to sink, for I feared there would 
not be much chance of my seeing the President that 
day, if at all. But, at any rate, I got an opportu- 
nity to see Mr. J. Addison Porter, the secretary to 
the President, and explained to him my mission. 
Mr. Porter kindly sent my card directly to the Presi- 
dent, and in a few minutes word came from Mr. 
McKinley that he would see me. 

How any man can see sd many people of all 
kinds, with all kinds of et-rands, and do so much 
hard work, and still keep himself calm, patient, and 
frfesh for each visitor in the way that President Mc- 
Kinley doeis, I cannot understand. When I saw 
the President he kindly thanked me for the work 


which we were doing at Tuskegee for the interests 
of the country. I then told him, briefly, the object 
of my visit. I impressed upon him the fact that a 
visit from the Chief Executive of the Nation would 
not only encourage our students and teachers, but 
would help the entire race. He seemed interested, 
but did not make a promise to go to Tuskegee, for 
the reason that his plans about going to Atlanta 
were not then fully made ; but he asked me to call 
the matter to his attention a few weeks later. 

By the middle of the following month the Presi- 
dent had definitely decided to attend the Peace 
Jubilee at Atlanta. I went to Washington again 
and saw him, with a view of getting him to extend 
his trip to Tuskegee. On this second visit Mr. 
Charles W. Hare, a prominent white citizen of 
Tuskegee, kindly volunteered to accompany me, to 
reenforce my invitation with one from the white 
people of Tuskegee and the vicinity. 

Just previous to my going to Washington the 
second time, the country had been excited, and the 
coloured people greatly depressed, because of sev- 
eral severe race riots which had occurred at differ- 
ent points in the South. As soon as I saw the 
President, I perceived that his heart was greatly 
burdened by reason of these race disturbances. 
Although there were many people waiting to see 


him, he detained me for some time, discussing the 
condition and prospects of the race. He remarked 
several times that he was determined to show his 
interest and faith in the race, not merely in words, 
but by acts. When I told him that I thought that 
at that time scarcely anything would go farther in 
giving hope and encouragement to the race than the 
fact that the President of the Nation would be will- 
ing to travel one hundred and forty miles out of his 
way to spend a day at a Negro institution, he seemed 
deeply impressed. 

While I was with the President, a white citizen 
of Atlanta, a Democrat and an ex-slaveholder, came 
into the room, and the President asked his opinion 
as to the wisdom of his going to Tuskegee. With- 
out hesitation the Atlanta man replied that it was 
the proper thing for him to do. This opinion was 
reenforced by that friend of the race, Dr. J, L. M. 
Curry. The President promised that he would 
visit our school on the i6th of December. 

When it became known that the President was 
going to visit our school, the white citizens of the 
town of Tuskegee — a mile distant from the school 
— were as much pleased as were our students and 
teachers. The white people of the town, including 
both men and women, began arranging to decorate 
the town, and to form themselves into committees 


for the purpose of cooperating with the officers of 
our school in order that the distinguished visitor 
might have a fitting reception, I think I never 
realized before this how much the white people of 
Tuskegee and vicinity thought of our institution. 
During the days when we were preparing for the 
President's reception, dozens of these people came 
to me arid said that, while they did not want to 
push themselves into prominence, if there was any- 
thing they could do to help, or to relieve me per- 
sonally, I had but to intimate it and they would be 
only too glad to assist. In fact, the thing that 
touched me almost as deeply as the visit of the 
President itself was the deep pride which all classes 
of citizens in Alabama seemed to take in our Work. 
The morning of December i6th brought to the 
little city of Tuskegee such a crowd as it had 
never seen before. With the President came Mrs. 
McKinley and all of the Cabinet officers but one ; 
and most of them brought their wives or some 
members of their families. Several prominent gen- 
erals came, including General Shafter and General 
Joseph Wheeler, who were recently returned from 
the Spanish-American war. There was also a host 
of newspaper correspondents. The Alabama Legis- 
lature was in session at Montgomery at this time. 
This body passed a resolution to adjourn for the 


purpose of visiting Tuskegee. Just before the ar- 
rival of the President's party the Legislature arrived, 
headed by the governor and other state officials. 

The citizens of Tuskegee had decorated the town 
from the station to the school in a generous man- 
ner. In order to economize in the matter of time, 
we arranged to have the whole school pass in review 
before the President. Each student carried a stalk 
of sugar-cane with some open bolls of cotton fast- 
ened to the end of it. Following the students the 
work of all departments of the school passed in 
review, displayed on " floats " drawn by horses, 
mules, and oxen. On these floats we tried tp ex- 
hibit not only the present work of the school, but 
to show the contrasts between the old methods of 
doing things and the new. As an example, we 
showed the old method of dairying in contrast 
with the improved methods, the old methods of 
tilling the soil in contrast with the new, the old 
methods of cooking and housekeeping in contrast 
with the new. These floats consun^ed an hour and 
a half of time in passing. 

In his address in our large, new chapel, which the 
students had recently completed, the President said^ 
among other things : — 

To meet you under such pleasant auspices and to have 
the opportunity of a personal observation of your work is 


indeed most gratifying. The Tuskegee Normal and Indus- 
trial Institute is ideal in its conception, and has already a 
large and growing reputation in the country, and is not 
unknown abroad. I congratulate all who are associated in 
this undertaking for the good work which it is doing in the 
education of its students to lead lives of honour and useful- 
ness, thus exalting the race for which it was established. 

Nowhere, I think, could a more delightful location have 
been chosen for this unique educational experiment, which 
has attracted the attention and won the support even of 
conservative philanthropists in all sections of the country. 

To speak of Tuskegee without paying special tribute to 
Booker T. Washington's genius and perseverance would be 
impossible. The inception of this noble enterprise was 
his, and he deserves high credit for it. His was the enthu- 
siasm and enterprise which made its steady progress possible 
and established in the institution its present high stand- 
ard of accomplishment. He has won a worthy reputation 
as one of the great leaders of his race, widely known and 
much respected at home and abroad as an accomplished 
educator, a great orator, and a true philanthropist. 

The Hon. John D. Long, the Secretary of the 

Navy, said in part : — 

I cannot make a speech to-day. My heart is too full 
— full of hope, admiration, and pride for my countrymen 
of both sections and both colours. I am filled with grati- 
tude and admiration for your work, and from this time for- 
ward I shall have absolute confidence in your progress and 
in the solution of the problem in which you are engaged. 


The problem, I say, has been solved. A picture has 
been presented to-day which should be put upon canvas 
with the pictures of Washington and Lincoln, and trans- 
mitted to future time and generations — a picture which 
the press of the country should spread broadcast over the 
Und, a most dramatic picture, and that picture is this : The 
President of the United States standing on this platform ; 
on one side the Governor of Alabama, on the other, com- 
pleting the trinity, a representative of a race only a few 
years ago in bondage, the coloured President of the Tuske- 
gee Normal and Industrial Institute. 

God bless the President under whose majesty such a 
scene as that is presented to the American people. God 
bless the state of Alabama, which is showing that it can 
deal with this problem for itself. God bless the orator, 
philanthropist, and disciple of the Great Master — who, if 
he were on earth, would be doing the same work — Booker 
T. Washington. 

Postmaster General Smith closed the address 
which he made with these words : — 

We have witnessed many spectacles within the last few 
days. We have seen the magnificent grandeur and the 
magnificent achievements of one of the great metropolitan 
cities of the South. We have seen heroes of the war pass 
by in procession. We have seen floral parades. But I 
am sure my colleagues will agree with me in saying that 
we have witnessed no spectacle more impressive and more 
encouraging, more inspiring for our future, than that which 
we have witnessed here this morning. 



Some days after the President returned to Wash- 
ington I received the letter which follows : — 

£j(EcuTivE Mansion^ Washingtqn^ Dec. z$, 1999. 

Dear Sir : By this mail I take pleasure in sending you 
engrossed copies of the souvenir of the visit of the Presi- 
dent to your institution. These sheets bear the auto- 
graphs of the President and the members of the Cabinet 
who accompanied him on the trip. Let me take this 
opportunity of congratulating you most heartily and sin- 
cerely upon the great success of the exercises provided for 
and entertainment furnished us under your auspices during 
our visit to Tuskegee. Every feature of the programme 
was perfectly executed and was viewed or participated in 
with the heartiest satisfaction by every visitor present. 
The unique exhibition which you gave of your pupils en-.- 
gaged in their industrial vocations was not only artistic but 
thoroughly impressive. The tribute paid by the President 
and his Cabinet to your work was none too high, and 
forms a most encouraging augury, I think, for the future 
prosperity of your institution. I cannot close without 
assuring you that the modesty shown by yourself in the 
exercises was most favourably commented upon by all the 
members of our party. 

With best wishes for the continued advance of your 
most useful and patriotic undertaking, kind personal regards, 
and the compliments of the season, believe me, always, 

Wery sincerely yours, 

John Addison Porter, 

Secretary to the President. 

To President Booker T. Washington, Tuskegee 
Normal and Industrial Institute, Tuskegee, Ala. 


Twenty years have now passed since I made the 
first humble efFort at Tuskegee, in a broken-down 
shanty and an old hen-house, without owning a 
dollar's worth of property, and with but one teacher 
and thirty students. At the present time the in- 
stitution owns twenty-three hundred acres of land, 
one thousand of which are under cultivation 
each year, entirely by student labour. There are 
now upon the grounds, counting large and small, 
sixty-six buildings ; and all except four of these have 
been almost wholly erected by the labour of our 
students. While the students are at work upon 
the land and in erecting buildings, they are taught, 
by competent instructors, the latest methods of 
agriculture and the trades connected with building. 

There are in constant operation at the school, 
in connection with thorough academic and re- 
ligious training, thirty industrial departments. All 
of these teach industries at which our men and 
women can find immediate employment as soon as 
they leave the institution. The only difficulty now 
is that the demand for our graduates from boti 
white and black people in the South is so great that 
we cannot supply more than one-half the persons 
for whom applications come to us. Neither have 
we the buildings nor the money for current ex- 
penses to enable us to admit to the school more 


than one-half the young men and women who 
apply to us for admission. 

In our industrial teaching we keep three things 
in mind : first, that the student shall be so educated 
that he shall be enabled to meet conditions as they 
exist noWy in the part of the South where he lives — 
in z word, to be able to do the thing which the 
world wants done ; second, that every student who 
graduates from the school shall have enough skill, 
coupled with intelligence and moral character, to 
enable him to make a living for himself and others ; 
third, to send every graduate out feeling and know- 
ing that labour is dignified and beautiful — to make 
each one love labour instead of trying to escape it. 
In addition to the agricultural training which we 
give to young men, and the training given to our 
girls in all the usual domestic employments, we now 
train a number of girls in agriculture each year. 
These girls are taught gardening, fruit-growing, 
dairying, bee-culture, and poultry-raising. 

While the institution is in no sense denomina- 
tional, we have a department known as the Phelps 
Hall Bible Training School, in which a number of 
students are prepared for the ministry and other 
forms of Christian work, especially work in the 
country districts. What is equally important, each 
one of these students works half of each day at some 


industry, in order to get skill and the love of work, 
so that when he goes out from the institution he is 
prepared to set the people with whom he goes to 
labour a proper example in the matter of industry. 
( The value of our property is now over |7CK),ooo. 
If we add to this our endowment fund, which, at 
present is 1 1,000,000, the value of the total 
property is now 1 1,700,000. Aside from the 
need for more buildings and for money for current 
expenses, the endowment fund should be increased 
to at least 13,000,000. The annual current expenses 
are now about 1150,000. The greater part of this 
I collect each year by going from door to door 
and from house to house. All of our property 
is free from mortgage, and is deeded to an unde- 
nominational board of trustees who have the control 
of the institution. 

From thirty students the number has grown to 
fourteen hundred, coming from twenty-seven states 
and territories, from Africa, Cuba, Porto Rico, 
Jamaica, and other foreign countries. In our de- 
partments there are one hundred and ten officers and 
instructors ; and if we add the families of our instruc- 
tors, we have a constant population upon our 
grounds of not far from seventeen hundred people. 

I have often been asked how we keep so large a 
body of people together, and at the same time keep 


them out of mischief. There are two answers : that 
the men and women who come to us for an educa- 


tion are in earnest; and that everybody is kept 
busy. The following outline of our daily work 
will testify to this: — 

5 A.M., rising bellj 5.50 a.m., warning breakfast bell; 
6 A.M., breakfast bell; 6.20 a.m., breakfast over; 6.20 to 
6.50 a.m., rooms are cleaned; 6.50, work bell; 7.30, 
morning study hour; 8.20, morning school bell; 8.25, 
inspection of young men's toilet in ranks ; 8.40, devotional 
exercises in chapel; 8.55, ^^five minutes with the daily 
news ; " g a.m., class work begins ; 1 2, class work closes ; 
12.15 p.m., dinner; i p.m., work bell; 1.30 p.m., class 
work begins ; 3,30 p.m., class work ends 5 5.30 P.M., bell 
to "knock off" work; 6 p.m., supper; 7.10 P.M., evening 
prayers; 7.30 p.m., evening study hours; 8.45 p.m., even- 
ing study hour closes; 9.20 p.m., warning retiring bell; 
9.30 p.m., retiring bell. 

We try to keep constantly in mind the fact that 
the worth of the school is to be judged by its gradu- 
ates. Counting those who have finished the full 
course, together with those who have taken enough 
training to enable them to do reasonably good work, 
we can safely say that at leaat six thousand men 
and women from Tuskegee are now at work in 
different parts of the South ; men and women who, 
by their own example or by direct effort, are show- 


ing the masses of our race how to improve their 
material, educational, and moral and religious life. 
What is equally important, they are exhibiting a 
degree of common sense and self-control which is 
causing better relations to exist between the races, 
and is causing the Southern white man to learn to 
believe in the value of educating the men and 
women of my race. Aside from this, there is the 
influence that Is constantly being exerted through 
the mothers' meeting and the plantation work con- 
ducted by Mrs. Washington. 

Wherever our graduates go, the changes which 
soon begin to appear in the buying of land, improv- 
ing homes, saving money, in education, and in high 
moral character are remarkable. Whole communi- 
ties are fast being revolutionized through the instru- 
mentality of these men and women. 

Ten years ago I organized at Tuskegee the first 
Negro Conference. This is an annual gathering 
which now brings to the school eight or nine hun- 
dred representative men and women of the race, who 
come to spend a day in finding out what the actual 
industrial, mental, and moral conditions of the people 
are, and in forming plans for improvement. Out 
from this central Negro Conference at Tuskegee 
have grown numerous state and local conferences 
which are doing the same kind of work. As a 


result of the influence of these gatherings, one dele* 
gate reported at the last annual meeting that ten 
families in his community had bought and paid for 
homes. On the day following the annual Negro 
Conference, there is held the "Workers' Con- 
ference." This is composed of officers and teachers 
who are engaged in educational work in the larger 
institutions in the South. The Negro Conference 
furnishes a rare opportunity for these workers to 
study the real condition of the rank and file of the 

In the summer of 1900, with the assistance of 
such prominent coloured men as Mr. T. Thomas 
Fortune, who| has always upheld my hands in every 
effort, I organized the National Negro Business 
League, which held its first meeting in Boston, and 
brought together for the first time a large number 
of the coloured men who are engaged in various 
lines of trade or business in different parts of the 
United states. Thirty states were represented at 
our first meeting. Out of this national meeting 
grew state and local business leagues. 

In addition to looking after the executive side of 
the work at Tuskegee, and raising the greater part 
of the money for the support of the school, I cannot 
seem to escape the duty of answering at least a part 
of the calls which come to me unsought to address 


Southern white audiences and audiences of my own 
race, as well as frequent gatherings in the North, 
As to how much of my time is spent in th?s way, the 
following clipping from a Buffalo (N.Y.) paper will 
tell. This has reference to an occasion when I 
spoke before the National Educational Association 
in that city. 

Booker T. Washington, the foremost educator among 
the coloured people of the world, was a very busy man from 
the time he arrived in the city the other night from the 
West and registered at the Iroquois. He had hardly re- 
moved the stains of travel when it was time to partake of 
supper. Then he held a public levee in the parlours of the 
Iroquois until eight o'clock. During that time he was 
greeted by over two hundred eminent teachers and edu- 
cators from all parts of the United States. Shortly after 
eight o'clock he was driven in a carriage to Music Hall, 
and in one hour and a half he made two ringing addresses, 
to as many as five thousand people, on Negro education. 
Then Mr. Washington was taken in charge by a delega- 
tion of coloured citizens, headed by the Rev. Mr. Watkins, 
and hustled off to a small informal reception, arranged in 
honour of the visitor by the people of his race. 

Nor can I, in addition to making these addresses, 
escape the duty of calling the attention of the South 
and of the country in general, through the medium 
of the press, to matters that pertain to the interests 


of both races. This, for example, I have done in 
regard to the evil habit of lynching. When the 
Louisiana State Constitutional Convention Was in 
session, I wrote an open letter to that body pleading 
for justice for the race. In all such efforts I have 
received warm and hearty support from the South- 
ern newspapers, as well as from those in all other 
parts of the country. 

Despite superficial and temporary signs which 
might lead one to entertain a contrary opinion, 
there was never a time when I felt more hopeful 
for the race than I do at the present. The great 
human law that in the end recognizes and rewards 
merit is everlasting and universal. The outside 
world does not know, neither can it appreciate, the 
struggle that is constantly going on in the hearts of 
both the Southern white people and their former 
slaves to free themselves from racial prejudice ; and 
while both races are thus struggling they should 
have the sympathy, the support, and the forbear- 
ance of the rest of the world. 

As I write the closing words of this autobiog- 
raphy I find myself — not by design — in the city 
of Richmond, Virginia : the city which only a few 
decades ago was the capital of the Southern Confed- 
eracy, and where, about twenty-five years ago, be- 


cause of my poverty I slept night after night under 
a sidewalk. 

This time I am in Richmond as the guest of the 
coloured people of the city ; and came at their request 
to deliver an address last night to both races in the 
Academy of Music, the largest and finest audience 
room in the city. This was the first time that the 
coloured people had ever been permitted to use this 
hall. The day before I came, the City Council 
passed a vote to attend the meeting in a body to 
hear me speak. The state Legislature, including 
the House of Delegates and the Senate, also 
passed a unanimous vote to attend in a body. In 
the presence of hundreds of coloured people, many 
distinguished white citizens, the City Council, the 
state Legislature, and state officials, I delivered my 
message, which was one of hope and cheer; and 
from the bottom of my heart I thanked both races 
for this welcome back to the state that gave me 


Abbott, Dr. Lyman, 230. 

Aberdeen, Lady, 285. 

Abolitionists, English, 284. 

Academy of Music, Richmond, ad- 
dress in, 319. 

Adams, Lewis, 120, 121. 

Africa, Negroes missionaries to, 16; 
Negro cannot improve condition 
by emigrating to, 285; students 
from, at Tuskegee Institute, 313. 

Age-Hernldy the Birmingham, corre- 
spondence with editor of, 256. 

Agricultural Building at Tuskegee, 
the Slater-Armstrong, 302. 

Agriculture in Holland, 278. 

Alabama Hall, 177-178. 

"Aliens," effect of, on Southerners, 

Amanda, Washington's sister, 5, 71. 

Ancestors, of Washington, 2; disad- 
vantage of having, 35, 39-40; ad- 
vantage of having, 36-37. 

Andrew, Governor, 251. 

Anecdotes, object of repeating, in 
public speaking, 243. 

Anthony, Susan B., 285. 

Antwerp, Belgium, Washington in, 

Armstrong, General Samuel C, 54- 
57, 94, 97, 106; benefit to Wash- 
ington of contact with, 73; helps 
Tuskegee Institute financially, 
146; visits Tuskegee, 55, 163, 
293-294; death of, 295. 

Atkinson, Governor G. W., 290, 291. 

Atlanta, Ga., Washington addresses 
Christian Workers at, 204-205; 
address at opening of Interna- 
tional Exposition at, 206, 210- 

Atlanta Exposition, the, 206; Hamp- 
ton and Tuskegee represented at, 
209; Washington's address, 210- 
225 ; President Cleveland at, 227- 
228; Washington appointed judge 
of, 233. 

Attucks, Crispus, 254. 

Audience, the best, 245; Washing- 
ton's largest, 253-254; the Eng- 
lish, 287. 

Auditorium, Chicago, Jubilee ad- 
dresses in the, 253-255. 

Authority, respect for, among Ne- 
groes, 168-169. 

Baldwin, William H., 216. 

Ballot, justice to Negro concerning 

his, 235-237. See Franchise. 
"Banking and discount" favourite 

study among Negroes, 122. 
Barrows, Dr. John H., 254. 
Baths, at Hampton, 58; Negroes in 

Maiden taught use of, 75; at Tus- 
kegee, 175. 
Battle at Maiden between Negroes 

and whites, 78. 
Bed-clothes, lack of, at Tuskegee, 

Bedford, Rev. Robert C, 157-158; 





Begging, science of, 1 80-18 1 ; Wash- 
ington avoids, 182. 

Belgium, trip through, 278. 

Bell, Alexander Graham, 297. 

Benefits of slavery, 16-17. 

Bible, use and value of the, 67. 

Bible Training School at TuskCgee, 
260, 312. 

Bicknell, Hon, Thomas W., 199. 

•* Big house," the, 9. 

Biography, Washington's fondness 
for, 263. 

Birmingham, England, Washington 
visits, 284. 

Black Belt of the South, 299, 301 ; 
defined, 108. 

Blind, Royal College for the, Com- 
mencement exercises of the, 285. 

" Blue-back " spelling-book, the, 27, 


Boarding department begun at Tus- 

kegee, 159-161; growth of, 177. 

Boggs, £. L., 290. 

Book, Washington's first, 27. 

Boston, money-raising experiences 
in, 184-185; dedication of Shaw 
Memorial in, 249-253; meeting 
in HoUis Street Theatre in, 270; 
first meeting of National Negro 
Business League in, 316. 

Boyhood days, Washington's, 23- 

Brickmaking at Tuskegee, 1 50-1 53. 

Bright, John, 284. 

Bristol, England, Washington speaks 
in, 284-285. 

Bruce, Senator B. K., 86, 89. 

Bruce, Mrs. B. K., 259. 

Brussels, Washmgton visits, 278. 

Bryce, James, 283. 

Buf&lo, N.Y., address before Na- 
tional Educational Association in, 


Bullock, Governor, of Georgia, 86, 

217, 241. 

Business League, National Negro^ 

Business men make best audiences, 


"Call to preach," prevalence of, 

among coloured people, 82; one 

old Negro's, 128. 
Campbell, George W., 120, 146. 
Canal-boat trip through Holland, 

Cards, Washington not fond o^ 

Carnegie, Andrew, 190-192, 
Carney, Sergeant William H., 252, 

Carpetbaggers, 86. 

"Cat-hole," the, 3. 

"Cavalier among Roundheads, a," 

Chapel, donation for, at Tuskegee, 

190 ; President McKinley speaks 

in, 307-308. 
Charleston, W. Va., capital moved 

to, 92 ; reception to Washington 

in, 289-291. 
Chattanooga, address at, 248. 
Cheating white man, the, 166, 237. 
Chicago, University of, addresses at, 

Choate, Hon. Joseph H., 283, 284. 

Christian Endeavour societies, help 
of, in Tuskegee work, 193 ; ad- 
dresses before, 247. 

Christian Endeavour Society at Tus- 
kegee, 198. 

Christian Union, letter from Wash- 
ington in the^ 230. 

Christian Workers, Washington ad- 
dresses meeting of, at Atlanta, 

Christmas, first, at Tuskegee, 133. 

Churches burned by Ku Klux Klan, 


Civil War, the, 8, lo. 



Clark, Mr. and Mrs., of Street, Eng- 
land, 284. 
Cleanliness the first law at Tuske- 

gee, 174-175- 

Clemens, Samuel L., 284. 

Cleveland, Grover, letter to Wash- 
ington from, 227 ; at the Atlanta 
Exposition, 227-228 ; Washing- 
ton's opinion of, 228. 

Clock, young Washington and the, 

Qocks in Negro cabins, 113. 
Clothing, barrels of, from the North, 

Coal-mining in West Virginia, 38-39. 
Cobden, Richard, Washington a guest 

of the daughter of, 284. 
College men third best audiences to 

address, 247. 
Colour prejudice, 228-229, 289 ; at 

hotels, 47, 157. 
Coloured Women's Clubs, National 

Federation of, 268. 
Commencement, at Hampton, 94 ; 

of Royal College for the Blind, 

London, 285 ; at Harvard, 295- 

"Commercial and civil relations," 

Washington pleads for blotting 

out of race prejudice in, 256. 
Conference, first Negro, 315 ; 

Workers', at Tuskegee, 316. 
Connecticut, Washington first visits, 

Corn, parched, used for coffee, 10. 

Comer-stone of first building at 

Tuskegee laid, 143-144. 
Cotton formerly chief product at 

Tuskegee, 113. 
Cotton States Exposition. See 

Atlanta Exposition. 
Couch, George S., 290. 
Courtesy of white Southerners 

toward Washington, 1 69-1 71. 
Courtney, Dr. Samuel £., 96. 

Cranks, experiences with, 256-258, 

"Credit is capital," 146. 
Creelman, James, 238. 
Criticism of South, place for, is the 

South, 201. 
Crystal Palace, London, Washington 

speaks in the, 285, 
Cuba, students from, at Tuskegee^ 

Curry, Hon. J. L. M., 194-195, 247, 


Davidson, Miss Olivia A., 124-126, 
131, 140, 141, 212 ; marriage to 
Washington, 198 ; death, 198- 

Dawson, William M. O., 290. 

Debating societies at Hampton, 68. 

Debating society at Maiden, 76. 

Degree, Washington's Harvard, 250, * 

Devotional exercises at Tuskegee, 

Dickinson, John Q., 290. 

Dining room, first, at Tuskegee, 
1 59- 1 61 ; present, 162. 

Donald, Rev. E. Winchester, 189- 

Donations, first, to Tuskegee Insti- 
tute, 1 31-132, 138 ; for new build- 
ing at Tuskegee, 140 ; from the 
North, 141-143; many that are 
never made public, 182-183 ; from 
gentleman near Stamford, 186- 
187; any philanthropic work must 
depend mainly on small, 192-193. 

Douglass, Frederick, 99-100, 284, 

Drunkenness at Christmas time, 

Du Bois, Dr. W. E. B., 270. 

Dumb animals, Negroes' kindness 

to, 282. 

Dunbar, Paul Lawrence, 270* 



Education, Washington's theory of, 

for Negro, 203. 
Educational Department of Atlanta 

Exposition, Washington a judge 

of, 233. 
Educational test suggested for fran- 
chise, 84, 237. 
£1 Caney, black regiments at, 255. 
Eliot, President Charles W., 296, 

297, 298, 299. 
Emancipation Proclamation, 5, 15, 

England, Washington in, 2S2-2S8. 
" Entitles," Negroes*, 24, 1 23, 
Essex Hall, London, Washington's 

address in, 283. 
Europe, Mr. and Mrs. Washington's 

visit to, 262, 271-288. 
Examination, a " sweeping," 52, 163, 

Executive council at Tuskegee, 259. 

Fame a weapon for doing good, 296. 
Federation of Southern Coloured 

Women's Qubs, 268. 
Fiction, Washington's opinion of, 

Fisk University, Miss Margaret J. 

Murray a graduate of, 267, 
Five-minute speech, an important, 

at Atlanta, 204-205. 
Flax, clothes made from, 1 1. 
Forbes, John M., 251. 
" Foreday " visits, 133. 
"Foreigners," feeling in South 

toward, 234-235. 
Fort Pillow, coloured soldiers at, 

Fortress Monroe, Washington works 

in restaurant at, 64-65. 
Fortune, T. Thomas, 316. 
Fort Wagner, coloured soldiers at, 

251, 252, 255. 
Foster, Hon. M. F., 194. 
Framingham, Mass., Miss Davidson 

student at Normal School at, 125; 
Portia Washington at, 274. 
Franchise, property or educational 
test suggested for, 84; same law 
for both Negroes and whites rec- 
ommended, 86-87; injury to 
whites of depriving Negro of, 165- 
166 ; belief that justice will be 
done Negro in matter of, 234- 

Franklin County, Va., Washington 

born in, I. 
Freedom, granted to Negroes, 19- 

22 ; interest in, in England, 284. 
Friendship, an Englishman's, 287- 

Frieslandy voyage on the, 275. 
Frissell, Dr. Hollis B., 106, 295. 
"Frolic," the Christmas, 135. 
Fuller, Chief Justice, 279. 
Future of Negro, 202. 

Gaines, Bishop, 207. 

Games, Washington's lack of interest 

in, 266. 
Garrison, Francis J., 271, 274, 283. 
Garrison, William Lloyd, 7, 284. 
Gilman, Dr. D. C, 232-233. 
Ginger-cakes, incident of the, 10. 
Gladstone, Washington compared 

to, 240. 
Graduates of Tuskegee send annual 

contributions, 193. 
Grady, Henry, 238, 240. 
Grant, Bishop, 207. 
" Grape-vine " telegraph, 8, 19. 
Great men, education of contact 

with, 55. 
Greek and Latin learning, craze 

among Negroes for, 80, 8i. 
Guitar lesson, story of the, 94. 

Hale's Ford, Washington's birth- 
place, I. 
Hampton Institute, Washington 



first hears of, 42 ; resolves to at- 
tend, 43 ; journey to, 46-50 ; a 
student at, 53-74 ; John and 
James Washington attend, 76-77; 
character-building result of train- 
ing at, 87-88 ; Washington re- 
visits, 94-95 ; Washington returns 
as a teacher, 97 ; represented at 
Atlanta Exposition, 209 ; under 
Dr. Frissell, 295. 

Hare, Charles W,, 304, 

Harlan, Justice, 279. 

Harper, President William R., 253. 

Harrison, Benjamin, 279. 

Harvard, Washington's honorary 
degree from, 250, 295-302. 

Hat, Washington's first, 33. 

Hemenway, Mrs. Mary, 125. 

Herford, Dr. Brooke, 283. 

Higginson, Henry L., 272. 

Hirsch, Rabbi Emil G., 254. 

Hodnett, Father Thomas P., 254. 

Holland, Washington's trip through, 

HoUis Street Theatre, Boston, meet- 
ing in, 270. 

Holstein cattle in Holland, 278. 

** Honour roll " at Hampton, 73. 

Hotel, Washington refused admit- 
tance to, 47 ; no trouble at, in 
Northampton, Mass., 157. 

" House father," Washington as, to 
Indians at Hampton, 97-98. 

House of Commons, visit to the, 

Howell, Albert, Jr., 217. 

Howell, Clark, 225-226, 239. 

Huntington, Collis P., 188-189. 

Indians at Hampton, 97-99. 

Industrial departments at Tuskegee 
Institute, 311. 

Industrial education, value of, 126- 
127, 154-156; growth of belief in 
worth of, 166; importance of, im- 

pressed on Negroes in addresses, 
206; advantages of, dwelt on in 
Atlanta Exposition address, 218- 
220; at present time at Tuskegee, 
312. See Labour. 

International Congress of Women in 
London, 285. 

International Exposition. 5>^ Atlanta 

Intoxication, prevalence of, at Christ- 
mas time, 133-134. 

Ireland, Archbishop, 279. 

Iroquois Hotel, Buffalo, public levee 
in, 317. 

Jackson, Andrew, 254. 

Jamaica, students from, at Tuskegee, 

Janitor, Washington installed as, at 

Hampton, 53. 
Jesup, Morris K., 194-195, 247. 
John F. Slater Fund, the, 194, 195, 

Jubilee exercises in Atlanta, 303, 

Jubilee week in Chicago, 253-256. 

Kilns, difficulty in making, 151-152. 
Ku Klux Klan, the, 77-79. 

Labour, in ante-bellum days badge 
of degradation in South, 17; dig- 
nity of, 72-74, 148; coloured min- 
ister claims that God has cursed 
&il> 135; new students at Tuske- 
gee object to manual, 1 55- 156; 
means of avoiding troubles sug* 
gested, 172. See Industrial Edu- 

La FoUette, L. M., 290. 

Laidley, George S., 291. 

Lawrence, Bishop William, 270, 298 

Lee, Colonel Henry, 251. 

Letter, from Miss Mary F. Mackie, 
72; from Alabama men to Gen- 



eral Armstrong, 106-107; to An- 
drew Carnegie, 191-192; from 
President Cleveland, 227; from 
Dr. Dp CGilman, 233; from Baker 
T. Washington, 269; from citizens 
of Charleston, W. Va,, 289, 290; 
from President £tiot, 295-296; 
from John Addison Porter, 310. 

Library, Washington's Brst, 45 ; first, 
at Tuskegee, 190; frmds for new, 
supplied by Andrew Carnegie, 191- 
192; on the 5/. Louis, 288. 

Lieutenant-governori a coloured, 


Lincoln, Abraham, Washington's 
mother prays for, 7; mentioned, 
S» 309; Washington's patron saint 
in literature, 263. 

Live stock, fine breeds at Hampton, 
66; first, at Tuskegee, 139; Wash- 
ington's individual, 265; in Hol- 
land, 27$. 

Lodge, Henry Cabot, 299. 

Logan, Warren, 1 58-1 59, 259. 

London, Washington visits, 282- 

Long, John D., 308-309. 

Lord, Miss Nathalie, 67. 

Louisiana State Constitutional Con- 
vention, letter on lynching to the, 

Lovejoy, Elijah P., 7. 

Lumber supplied on strength of 
Washington's word, 140. 

Luxembourg Palace, American Ne- 
gro's painting in, 280. 

Lynching, Washington writes open 
letter on, 318. 

MacCorkle, ex-Governor W. A., 390, 

Mackie, Miss Mary F., 53, 54, 72, 

McKinley, President, 181 ; at the 

Auditorium meeting, Chicago, 254; 

Washington's interviews with, 303- 
305; visits Tuskegee, 306-310. 

Macon County, Ala., Tuskegee 
county-seat of, 121. 

McWhorter, L. £.,291. 

Madison, Wis., Washington begins 
public-speaking career at, 199, 

Mail-carrier as disseminator of news 
among slaves, 9. 

Maiden, W. Va., Washington's rela- 
tives move to, 24-25 ; Washington 
revisits, 68; teaches school at, 75; 
Ku Klux Klan at, 77-78. 

Mark Twain, 284. 

" Mars' Billy," death of, 12-13. 

Marshall, Edward, 275, 278. 

Marshall, General J. B. F.^ 66, 129, 

Master of Arts, Washington made a, 

'< Masters " in EngUnd, 386. 

Mattress-making at Tuskegee, 173. 

Meals, in slave quarters, 9; among 
Negroes in early days at Tuske- 
gee, 112-1 15; trials in connection 
with, in boarding department, 
160-161; schedule of, at present, 
at Tuskegee, 314. 

Memorial Hall, Harvard, Washing- 
ton's speech in, 299-301. 

Memphis, yellow-fever epidemic at, 

Middle passage, the, 2. 

Miles, General Nelson A., 297, 299, 

Ministers, over-supply among Ne- 
groes, 82-83; improvement in 
character of Negro, 232. 

Missionaries, Negroes as, 16, 

Missionary organization, officer of a, 
discourages Washington's effortSi 

" Mister," calling a Negro, 247, 

" Mistresses " in Englan4» 386. 



Molasses, black, substitute for sugar, 
10; frofli the "big house," 245- 


Montgomery, Ala., Rev. Robert C. 

Bedford pastor in, 157. 
Morgan, S. Griffitts, 59. 
Morocco, anecdote of the citizen of, 

Moses, Washington termed a Negro, 

Mothers' meeting in Tuskegee, 267, 

Murray, Miss Margaret J., 267-268. 

Music Hall, Boston, address in, 250- 

Music Hall, Buffalo, addresses in, 


Name, Washington chooses his own, 

!Names, emancipated Negroes 

change, 23-24; of Tuskegee stu- 
dents, 123. 

^National Educational Association, 
speech at meeting of, in Madison, 
Wis., 199, 242; address before, in 
Buffalo, 317. 

"National Federation of Coloured 
Women's Clubs, 268. 

National Negro Business League, 

Hegro Building at Atlanta Exposi- 
tion, 208-209; President Cleve- 
land visits, 227-228. 

Negro Conference, first, 315. 

Nelson, Bishop, of Georgia, 217. 

New Orleans, reception to Washing- 
ton in, 292. 

Newspapers, quoted, 226, 238-241, 
250-256, 300-302, 317; Washing- 
ton's delight in, 263. 

l^ew York, a rebuff in, 156-157; Mr. 
and MrSb Washington sail from, 

Night-gown, lessons ia use of, 176. 

Night-school, started in Maiden, 30; 
Washington attends* in Maiden^ 
37; Washington opens, in Maldei^ 
75 ; established at Hampton, i04-« 
105; at Tuskegee, 196-197. 

Nobility, respect for the, in England, 

North, the, Miss Davidson solicits 
funds in, 141 ; Washington and 
Miss Davidson again visit, 156- 
157; General Armstrong takes 
Washington to, with quartette, 
178-180; later addresses in, 206. 
See Boston. 

Northampton, Mass., Washington at, 

Novels, Washington forces himself 

to read, 263. 

Odell, Hon. Benjamin B., Jr., 289. 

Opera House, Charleston, W. Va., 
reception to Washington in the, 

Organ, Negro family own a sixty- 
dollar, 113. 

Page, Thomas Nelson, 233. 
Painting, American Negro's, in 

Luxembourg Palace, 280. 
Paris, Washington's visit to, 278- 

Parliament, Washington visits, 285. 
" PatroUers," the, 77-78. 
Payne, Charles K., 291. 
Peabody Fund, the, 194, 195. 
I Peace Conference, the, 278. 
Penn, I. Garland, 209. 
Phelps HaU Bible Training School, 

260, 312. 
Philanthropy, English, 287. 
Pig, Washington's favourite animal, 

Pinchback, Governor, 86. 
" Pine-knot torchlight reception/' a, 




Plantation work, Mrs. Washington's 

course in, 267, 315. 
•* Plucky Class," the, 105. 
Political life, allurements of, 85. 
Politics in early days at Tuskegee, 


Poor whites, 26. 

Porter, A. H., 142. 

Porter, General Horace, 279, 280. 

Porter Hall, 142 ; first service in 

chapel of, 157. 
Porter, John Addison, 303, 310. 
Port Hudson, Negro soldiers at, 255. 
Porto Rico, students from, at Tuske- 

gee, 313. 
Pbst-graduate address at Hampton, 

Potato-hole, the, 4. 

Prichard, Mr. L., 290. 

Property test suggested for franchise, 

Providence, R.I., a lucky morning 
in, 189. 

Public speaking, emptiness of mere 
abstract, 67 ; ^Washington's first 
practice in, 92 ; in conjunction 
with General Armstrong in the 
North, 180 ; *' An idea for every 
word," 180; career begins at 
Madison, Wis., 199; secret of 
success in, 238-256. 

Quartette, Washington and the 
Hampton, in the North, 178-180. 

Queen, the, Washington takes tea 
with, 285. 

Qnincy, Hon. Josiah, 251. 

Race feeling in America, 289. 
Race riots in the South, 304. 
Reading, Washington's tastes in, 

Reading-room, established at Mai* 

den, 76 ; first, at Tnskegee, 190. 
Reconstruction period, 8o-*9i. 

Reid, Ed., 29 1. 

Reliability of slaves, 1 3, 14, 15, 19. 

Richmond, Va., Washington's first 
experiences in, 48-50; meets Dr. 
Curry in, 194-195; guest of the 
coloured people of, 318-319. 

Rich people, necessity for, in the 
world, 182; business methods es- 
sential in dealing with, 192. 

Rockefeller, John D., 297. 

Rotterdam, Washington visits, 278. 

Royal College for the Blind, Com- 
mencement exercises of the, 285. 

Ruffher, General Lewis, 43, 78. 

Rufiher, Mrs. Viola, 43-45, 71. 

St. Gaudens, Augustus, 251. 

St. Louis, gift of a library by citizens 
of, 288. 

St. Louis, voyage in the, 288. 

Salt-mining in West Virginia, 25-26. 

Sanders Theatre, Commencement 
exercises in, 297-298. 

Santiago, black regiments at, 255. 

Savage, Rev. Minot J., 297, 299. 

School, Washington as a boy escorts 
white children to, 6-7; first, for 
Negroes, 29; night, started, 30; 
Washington first attends, 31; at 
Hampton, see |Iampton; Wash- 
ington teaches, at Maiden, 75; 
opened at Tuskegee, 106-110^ 119. 
See Night-school. 

Schoolhouses burned, 78. 

Scott, Emmett J., 259, 274. 

Servants in England, 286. 

Sewell, Senator, 275, 277. 

Sewing-machines at Tuskegee, 113. 

Shafter, General, 306. 

Shaw Memorial, address at dedica- 
tion of, 249-253. 

Shaw, Robert Gould, 249-25a 

Sheets, Washington's first experience 
with, 60-61 ; lessons in use of» at 
Tnskegee Institute, 175-176. 



Shirt, flax, ii, 12. 

Shoes, Washington's first pair of, 11. 

Sidewalk, Washington sleeps under 
a, in Richmond, 49. 

Slater- Armstrong Agricultural Build- 
ing, 302. 

Slavery, benefits of, 16-17. 

Slaves, quarters of, 2-5; attitude of, 
during Civil War, 12-14; freed, 

Slave ship, 2. 

Smith, Miss Fannie N., 146-147. 

Smith, Postmaster-General, 309. 

Smith, W. Herman, 289. 

Snufi-dipping, 115. 

** Social recognition *' never discussed 
by Washington, 256. 

^ Soul " necessary to success in pub- 
lic speaking, 244. 

Spanish-American War, Negroes in, 

Stafford House, London, a reception 

at, 287-288. 
Stage-coach travel, 46, 47. 
Stamford, Conn., generous donor 

firom, 186-187. 
Stanley, Sir Henry M., 285. 
Stanton, Mrs. Elizabeth Cady, 279. 
Stanton, Theodore, 278. 
Story, effect of telling, in public 

speaking, 243; the humorous, in 

England, 287. 
Strike of coal-miners, 68-69. 
Strikes, means of avoiding, 172. 
Sturge, Joseph, 284. 
Suffrage. See Franchise. 
Sutherland, Duke and Duchess of, 

* Sweeping '' examination, a, 52, 163, 


Taliaferro, Washington's name origi- 
nally, 35- 
Tanner, Henry 0., 280-281. 
••Teacher's day," 29. 

Ten-dollar bill, incident of finding 
a, 65. 

Tents used as dormitories, 57. 

Texas, travelling in, 169. 

Thanksgiving service, first, at Tub* 
kegee, 157-158. 

"The Force That Wins," 94. 

The Hague, visit to, 278. 

Thompson, MrsL Joseph, 217, 239. 

Thompson, Hon. Waddy, 144. 

•• Three cheers to Booker T. Wash- 
ington ! " in Boston, 252. 

Times, New York, quoted, 302. 

Times-Herald, Chicago, quoted, 

Tooth-brush, gospel of the, 75, I74-* 

Transcript, Boston, quoted, 226, 


Trotter, J. R., 290. 

Trust, slaves true to a, 13, 14, 15, 

Tuition, cost of, at Hampton, 59 ; 
in night-school at Hampton, 104; 
at Tuskegee, 167; in night-school 
at Tuskegee, 196-197. 

Tuskegee, Washington first goes to, 
107; acquisition of present site of 
school, 128-130; General Arm- 
strong at, 55, 163, 293-294; rep- 
resented at the Atlanta Eiqposition, 
209; executive force of the Insti- 
tute, 258-259; President McKin- 
ley and Cabinet at, 306-310. 

Umbrella, Dr. Donald and the, 190. 
University Qub of Paris, Washington 

a guest at the, 279. 
University of Chicago addresses, 

Washington's, 253-255. 
Unwin, Mr. and Mrs. T. Fisher, 284. 

Vacation, at Hampton, 63, 68; the 
first in nineteen years, 262, 27^ 
See Europe. 




Vessel, Washington helps unload, in 

Richmond, 49. 
Victoria, Queen, 285. 
Vincent, Bishop John H., 297. 
Virtue of Negro women, 249. 

Wagon-making at Tuskegee, 154. 

Washington, D.Cj author a student 
in, 87-91 ; yisits, in interests of 
Atlanta Exposition, 207-208 ; 
talks with President McKinlej in, 

Washington, Baker Taliaferro, 199, 

264, 268-269. 
Washington, Booker T., hthet of, 

2-3 ; mother of, 2-^ 21, 27, 28, 

3^ 33» 45» 70; sister of, 5, 71; 

stepfather of, 24, 26, 30. 
Washington, Mrs. Booker T. See 

Smith, Miss Fannie N., Davidson, 

Miss Olivia A., and Murray, Miss 

Margaret J. 
Washington, Ernest Davidson, 199, 

264, 269. 
Washington, George, 101-102, 309. 
Washington, James B., 37, 77. 
Washington, John, 5, 12, 59, 68, 70, 

7h 76. 
Washington, Portia M., 147, 264, 


Watch, Washington pawns his, 152 
Waterloo, a visit to battleSeld o( 

Watkins, Rev. Mr., of Buffalo, 317. 
Westminster, Duke of, 285. 
West Virginia, Washington can- 
vasses in interests of Charleston 

for capital, 93. 
Wheeler, General Joseph, 306. 
Wheeling, W. Va., capital moved 

from, 93. 
Whittier, James G., 284. 
Wilson, ex-Governor E. W., 290. 
Wilson, Hon. James, 302. 
Windsor Castle, visit to, 285. 
Wolcott, Roger, 250-252, 298, 299. 
Woman's club at Tuskegee Institute, 

Women, virtue of Negro, 249 ; In« 

temational Congress of, 285. 
Women's Liberal Qub of Bristol^ 

England, 285. 
Work, outline of daily, at Tuskegee, 

Workers* Conference, 316. 

fVoriii, New York, quoted, 238-241. 

Worrying, necessity of avmding, i8i. 

Young Men's Christian Association 
at Tu^egee, 198. 


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